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By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
PONTIAC – Anti-gay family activists aren’t alone in being persistent. Despite the frequently successful attempts of religious extremists to deny basic protections to LGBT-headed families, on Feb. 14 the leaders of two LGBT-headed churches will be at the Oakland County Courthouse to assist same-sex couples in applying for marriage licenses.
The demonstration will begin at 9 a.m. with an attempt by the couples to receive licenses. Afterward, Pastors Deborah Dysert and Mark Bidwell will perform a blessing of relationships and lead demonstrators in a prayer vigil for marriage equality.
The demonstration, which the organizers have named, “This Year, Every Year, Until,” is part of a nationwide series of planned marriage-related actions being coordinated by the national Metropolitan Community Church. MCC has been active in the equal marriage rights movement for almost four decades, according to a letter by founder the Reverend Troy Perry on the church’s web site.
According to Perry’s letter, “This year, a wide array of GLBT and GLBT-friendly organizations, organizations, including DontAmend.com, HRC, PFLAG, NGLTF, ACLU, NOW, Marriage Equality, Freedom To Marry, Lambda Legal and many others are promoting special marriage events throughout Valentine’s Week.”
“We’re asking for folks that can’t join us, to please during those two hours, take some time to lift us in prayer. We believe that we can change things if we are vigilant and continue to say, ‘We deserve more,'” said Dysert, pastor of Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church in Waterford. Dysert said that the demonstration is expected to end at 11 a.m.
“This is more than just a political thing. This is a faith issue,” said Mark Bidwell, pastor of MCC Detroit in Ferndale. “We have to believe not only in our governments but our leaders, that they will see that the gay and lesbian community should be treated as equal citizens in this nation.”
Bidwell said that his denomination is asking committed couples throughout the country to visit their local county courthouses to request a marriage license on Valentine’s Day.
In Michigan, Bidwell said, one member of the couple can go to the courthouse as long as they bring a copy of their intended spouse’s ID. When they apply, they will receive a copy of Michigan’s discriminatory anti-marriage ordinance and will be denied a license.
“We instruct people to thank the clerks and say, ‘We’ll see you next year,'” Bidwell said.