A groundbreaking ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court was announced this morning when it ruled the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) — which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages sanctioned by the state — as unconstitutional. The ruling deals a historic blow to the anti-gay fundamentals of Catholicism, Pentecostalism, and other smaller religious groups across America which brought DOMA into existence seventeen years ago. In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down a provision of DOMA that denies federal benefits — like Social Security benefits or the ability to file joint tax returns — to same-sex couples legally married. The impact of the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, is clear for the nation’s approximately 130,000 married same-sex couples. Section 3 of the law, the provision that was struck down, denies same-sex couples federal benefits. That provision impacts around 1,100 federal laws, including veterans’ benefits, family medical leave and tax laws. The largest religious demographic in America is the 26.3% who identify as Pentecostal Evangelical, with 23.9% identifying as Roman Catholic.
As the United States successfully begins to rebuild the critical wall separating church and state, which Thomas Jefferson and his fellow forefathers so carefully constructed centuries ago, Americans are reclaiming the definition of democracy, freedom, and true equality. The Supreme Court’s decision sends a powerful message not only to the world at large, but also to the anti-gay cornerstone of the disturbing wave of fear-based and shame-based Christian Fundamentalism that has emerged in the United States over the past century. Pro-gay denominations such as the Episcopalian Church, the United Church, and the North American Anglican Church are championing the ruling as an enormous victory for the true message of a more enlightened Christianity and America.
The decision comes nearly one week after the Oprah Winfrey Network aired a powerful episode of Our America With Lisa Ling which exposed the devastating consequences of the Pentecostal Church’s despicable embrace of “ex-gay therapy” which has devastated the lives of countless people around the world. The episode chronicles the damaging effects of attempting to “pray the gay away”, and tracks the collapse of the Pentecostal Exodus International ministry. You can learn much more about that story by visiting The Oprah Winfrey Network. All major medical and mental health organizations have denounced the Pentecostal and Christian Fundamentalist practice of “ex-gay therapy” including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization. Learn more by visiting The Human Rights Campaign.
Recently I also discovered a fascinating speech given by award-winning author Lesley Hazleton for TED Talks™. Entitled The Doubt Essential To Faith, Hazleton brilliantly weaves together her experience writing The First Muslim, and what she learned about the dangers of misquoting religious texts, whether they be Islam or Christian. Her words serve as a powerful reminder that the purity, beauty, and unconditional love found in the core truths of the world’s great religions has been taken hostage by fundamentalists who misappropriate and misquote, as well as religious moderates who sit back and do nothing to stop it.
If there’s one thing today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage can teach us it’s this: the fight for freedom, equality, justice and equal rights extends far beyond the steps of a federal courthouse in Washington — it is a global effort. We’re all in this together, and there is much work left to be done.
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SEE ALSO: Watch Andrew Sullivan’s Breathtaking Words On Gay Marriage From Charlie Rose
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