Like many, I am deeply disappointed that the State Senate voted down marriage equality last Thursday. Three months ago, those who profess to divine the political winds were confident that it would pass – and New Jersey would join the ranks of states that permit same-gender marriage.
Two weeks ago I spent the better part of a morning with a legislator who said to our small group that while he was personally in favor of marriage equality, his constituency was not; and he was not willing to create a political problem for himself by voting for it. This summer at General Convention, a group of 25 bishops met informally late one evening and early the next morning to see if we could come up with a resolution that would honor the disparity of political opinions and theological perspectives that we held regarding human sexuality. We were honest and fair with each other. One bishop – who was opposed to same gender blessings and to electing a gay or lesbian priest to be bishop, said that he knew this was all coming eventually, but asked if we could please slow it down a little.
The state slowed it down; the General Convention of the Episcopal Church took a step in moving it forward. At least a little. I do believe that full equality for all people whose relationships are marked by fidelity and commitment is coming eventually – at least in the Episcopal Church and in the state of New Jersey; and many of us will continue to work in each arena to bring that about. That, I suppose, is some consolation, but – as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently stated years ago: “justice delayed is justice denied”.