At 10 a.m. on Sunday, First Unitarian Denver and seven other Unitarian Universalist congregations will hold services at an unlikely venue: the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol building. The goal, says First Unitarian Denver Reverend Mike Morran, is to affirm family values for everyone, but especially gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.
This will be the sixth annual GLBT service at the Capitol, Morran notes. "We began doing it in 2006, when Amendment 43 was on the ballot. You'll remember that the amendment defined, and basically enshrined, marriage inequality in our state constitution. And we wanted to let people know that Focus on the Family wasn't the only voice out there on this issue. We're people of faith, and we have a whole different take on the issue."
That first year, approximately 350 people turned up -- and since then, attendance has varied by the weather. "A couple of years, it was just dismal -- forty degrees and freezing rain," he recalls. "On those years, attendance got down to 200 or so. But we got 600 last year, and we're hoping for 1,000 this year -- because when the weather's good, we shine."
At this writing, by the way, the Sunday forecast looks gorgeous.
Of course, Colorado is hardly the only state that restricts marriage to one man and one woman, and Morran says, "I would like to see President Obama come out and stand up for full equality for GLBT folks -- full marriage equality, which he has not done thus far. He's supported civil unions and taken some good steps, like not enforcing DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] and working to get Don't Ask, Don't Tell out of the military" -- a move that became official this week, although veteran Luiza Fritz continues to suffer from DADT's repercussions.
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"But," Morran continues, "every way I can approach this issue, from my personal spirituality to my understanding of constitutional rights tells me anything less than full equality is simply discrimination."
Not that the service will be downbeat. "We'll have a full choir -- probably sixty-to-eighty voices. We'll have a couple of keyboards and drums, we'll have singing and praising, and we'll do a public blessing of couples on the steps of the Capitol. We use our authority as people of faith to bless the committed relationships of all couples, and we don't care what gender they are. The title is 'Standing on the Side of Love,' and that's what we do."
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