5 Years later, the Fight for Equality is Far From Over

On the morning of Saturday, March 22, 2014, I received a call from my lead Deacon demanding, "I need you to get to the Oakland County Courthouse. Now!"
"What's happening? Is something wrong?" I wondered if someone from the church had gotten into trouble and needed a pastor to show up in court.
"They are allowing couples to get married! We are so excited. There are six of us here from the church and we want both of our pastors to be the ones to marry us. This is urgent!"
I had only been on the job for a few weeks as senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. Clearly, this was a very important to him as he gave me the command to drop what I was doing, but I recognized also that this window of opportunity could close at any moment. As unexpected it was that four county clerks decided to open their offices on that Saturday morning to allow same-sex couples to wed, we also had no idea when that opportunity would end. I made my way to the courthouse.
On Sunday, March 24, 2019, MCC Detroit celebrated the fifth anniversary of that wonderful and unexpected opportunity for the roughly 300 couples who were wed. The irony is that our church now rents space in a United Methodist Church that recently voted not to affirm same-sex marriage. We chose to involve the entire church in a series of affirmations for these couples by having them repeat "I do" following each affirmation.
Many people in Michigan feared what took place five years ago was the beginning of the end of civilization. And when the U.S. Supreme Court made it legal for all same-gender-loving couples to marry in 2015, we witnessed tactics, such as a person's "religious liberty," used as justification to deny access to adoption or even receiving a marriage license.
One would think those who were in opposition would realize that love is love, that it's love that makes a family, that children in same-sex households turn out fine, that the lesbian and gay couple actually make pretty good neighbors. But, that's not the case.
And for those who are still in opposition, ignoring them can prove to be costly. Let us not fall into the belief we have conquered this mountain. Defending married same-sex couples and their families still requires work. The Equality Act, a federal civil rights bill that would provide comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people against discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations was introduced on March 13 in the U.S. House with hearings scheduled for the first half of April. Opponents are working hard to insert religious exemptions to dilute the protections this bill would provide.
During this fifth anniversary of this wonderful occasion, let us take time to celebrate and bless the marriages of those 300-plus couples. But also, let it be a reminder of work still yet to be done as we live our lives openly by sharing our stories to our neighbors and to members of Congress. There is an urgency for us to do so!
TAGLINE Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow is looking for people in every district throughout the state willing to share their stories of discrimination with their congressional representative. If interested, contact [email protected] for more information. Stringfellow is the Senior Pastor and Teacher of MCC-Detroit and celebrated 13 years of his ordination as a MCC pastor on Oct. 15.