As I write this I’m on the bus to Springfield. We pull onto Lakeshore Drive singing “We’re Moving Forward” and “Singing for Our Lives.” After the pastor from Broadway United Methodist church, which organized the bus, offers a prayer, a microphone is passed around so riders can offer testimony as to why they’re going to spend the next four hours traveling to Springfield. “To talk to my legislator about why a straight woman supports marriage equality,” says one rider. “So my moms can marry,” says another. “So I can marry my partner of 40 years,” says another. “To march for justice.”
As For the Bible Tells Me So plays on the bus’ VCR, I consider that members from more than a dozen congregations are represented here. We cheer at the high points in the movie when, for example, an interviewee reminds us that Jesus never said anything about who should or shouldn’t marry; or about how purity laws in the Hebrew scriptures are filled with contradictions and outdated ancient customs unfit for our millennium. I’m proud the Unitarian Church of Evanston fills half the bus — and we’re passing out snacks and coffee to our hosts. At the rally, we are the most represented denomination, by far. On stage, it is a reunion of UU clergy.
That marriage equality could happen next week in Illinois, after so many years working on the issue, is unfathomable. Whenever I consider that the waters of justice may flow, finally, not just down the mountain but toward a rainbow, I experience a moment of pause. What’s next? My mantra for the past decade, when asked “why are we putting the majority of our justice efforts into marriage equality?” is that “it’s the civil rights issue of our time.” In the past few years I’ve watched “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” crash and burn. I’ve witnessed “The Defense of Marriage Act” go down in flames. We’re on the eve of a new era where all loving couples can be affirmed in matrimony.
What’s next after marriage equality? I suspect we’ll be involved in continuing our work to make sure these “new” rights for GLBTQI persons are upheld, and I also suspect that we will continue to support the many other justice initiatives (prison, restorative, environmental, and economic justice, for example) in which we’re involved. I know that I’m also going to keep my eyes open for the next big civil rights issue into which we must invest our time and energy. Civil rights have always pulled Unitarians , Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists together in a common march for justice. Let us keep our eyes open!