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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Like most families, my brood is a complex configuration of souls, so I greeted this week’s flurry of Supreme Court decisions with a conflicted heart.

This is true for most anyone who paid attention to the court rulings, I imagine. This latest round reflects parts of our culture we either want to embrace or want to reject. No middle ground here. It’s all peaks and valleys, the perfect graphic to illustrate our country’s divisions these days.

Initially, I was overjoyed to hear that the court had struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act — a ridiculously named law that did nothing but harm to innocent people and their families for 17 years. Finally, the U.S. government must recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples, and the earth didn’t tremble, not even a little bit.

Immediately, my mind was flooded with the faces of so many gay men and women who populate our daily lives — good people, crazy loyal and with a patience no one has the right to ask of them.

My mood was quickly tempered by the wakeup jolt of reality. Thirty-nine states still treat their gay citizens like modern-day lepers, passing bills and referenda as redundant as they are hateful. The DOMA decision does nothing to stop states from continuing to discriminate against men and women whose only crime is to be different from the people who fear them for reasons they can’t explain, even to themselves.

A lot of people who oppose marriage equality like to blame God for their bigotry. In my version of heaven, I get to watch them try to explain themselves.

Meanwhile, down here on earth, every time I hear someone talk about how God hates homosexuality — that whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” malarkey — I think of my late mother, whose faith survived countless trials in her 62 years.

“Being a Christian means fixing yourself and helping others,” she used to say, “not the other way around.” That’s a lifetime of work summed up right there.

Nine years ago, my husband and I were married by a minister who still cannot wed her longtime partner simply because they live in Ohio instead of Massachusetts, say, or any other state in New England where same-sex marriage is legal.

To this day, friends and family who attended our wedding want to talk about how moved they were by Pastor Kate’s sermon at our service. To this minute, Pastor Kate cannot legally claim Jackie — beloved to all of us — as her spouse, even as she works for the United Church of Christ every single day.

God’s will, you understand.

Uh-huh.