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Marriage equality is one of the defining issues of this era. How each of us responds to defining issues defines what our presence in that era’s culture will be.

For this reason, and others, I have put my signature on Oregon’s petition to amend their definition of marriage, a re-definition that will allow the state of Oregon to recognize and sanction same-sex couples and grant them the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

I want my presence in this era’s culture to be one that is not at war with people, one that values nurturing relationship with people above most else.

There are numerous challenges that face the Queer community as well as a rift between them and the Church. Neither these challenges nor this rift can be resolved through hostility and perpetuated misunderstanding. We will not heal any wounds by disrespecting each other.

From what I can tell, we in the Queer community have not tried to suppress or take away the rights of any other demographic. True we can be obstinate at times about our pride, but we’re not oppressive. Mostly we just want to live in peace and be with someone we love.

We in the Church on the other hand…we have some history of oppression, hostility and even violence. We have not always been respectful to the culture around us.

My “Yes” vote to Marriage Equality in Oregon will not undo all the wrongs done by my Church culture to my Queer culture, but I hope that I can at least undo some of that wrong and give the Queer community some of the respect they deserve.

Consider this. Your “No” vote will not make the Queer community disappear. Your “No” vote will, though, throw up a concrete wall between you and your Queer neighbor which will inhibit any chance you might have had to share the Gospel of Jesus. Your “No” vote will cause you to be labeled, perhaps unreasonably so, as one of those self-righteous, narrow-minded bigots. Perhaps you are not this kind of person, but you will still be labeled this way because, unfortunately, people on both sides are much too quick to label.

I do hope that others in the Church community will follow my example in reaching out to the Queer community. I’m not asking any Christian to change their beliefs or go against their values. I am inviting my Christian brothers and sisters to overcome ignorant biases, build relationships, show compassion to their gay neighbors and co-workers.

Does this mean that by default we should support all cultural trends? Not at all, for some places that culture goes are not good. But with Marriage Equality, relationships are key. How individuals relate to each other as lovers, neighbors and friends. How the Church relates to the world around them. How we believe Jesus relates to His people.

Let our interactions with each other speak of God’s love and God’s pursuit of relationship with all people…