WARREN – On the eve of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing arguments in the case of DeBoer V. Snyder, more than 100 people came out to Renaissance Unity church in Warren for an interfaith marriage equality celebration.
“You are the leading edge,” Rev. Jim Lee, Renaissance Unity’s senior minister, told the crowd of marriage equality activists. “Sometimes when you’re the leading edge, people want to take pot shots at you.”
Lee said he had “come a long way” on the issue of gay rights, admitting he had been raised to be homophobic.
“Then something happened,” he said. “I started to meet people, and I found they were just people. So I had to let go of what I had been fed.”
Today, Lee’s church strongly supports marriage equality.
“Renaissance Unity stands for equality,” said Lee. “We’re not against anybody or anything. We’ve just decided we’re going to be there for things we support. Everybody is equal and when it comes to marriage we stand firm on that.”
Rev. Beth Rakestraw, the senior minister of Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church, spoke to the crowd about history being made.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be standing before you all today at what I believe is an incredible turning point in history,” said Rakestraw who, along with her wife Beverly, was one of the 300 couples married in Michigan on March 27th after the DeBoer V. Snyder ruling came down and before a stay was issued.
“As Dr. King told us, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,'” Rakestraw said. “I also think that it bends toward love … My sisters and brothers, we are standing on the threshold of an opened door to freedom for same-sex couples and their families. We have been brought to that place because people who were once against us are having a change of heart.”
Betsy McKeeman, who is a member of Renaissance Unity with her wife Julie, spoke about being married in 2013 in San Francisco.
“We left with a marriage certificate that the federal government would recognize, but that our own state ignored,” McKeeman said. “I cannot legally change my last name as the marriage certificate isn’t valid in Michigan. I also have no legal custody of our children and cannot make medical decisions on their behalf if anything were to happen to Julie.
McKeeman said she’s hoping those things will change soon.
“Tomorrow’s hearing means that our family may finally have a chance to be fully recognized and protected in the eyes of the law, and that is something we are very proud to be a part of,” she said. “We are forever grateful to April and Jane DeBoer for their courage to represent families like ours and we look forward to the day when we can celebrate with them. Hopefully we will all be able to find babysitters.”