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Column: Opposing marriage ban part of practicing my faith


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I consider myself a person of faith, but my faith might not be the same as yours.

I grew up in the 1960s, in a pretty standard household. When I was a kid, Mom and Dad would sometimes read the Bible aloud at the kitchen table after dinner. I learned some passages by heart.

As I grew older, I learned there were many different faiths out there and much variety even within each faith tradition. By the time I was in my 20s, I had more questions than answers. I decided that was just fine.

As a young man, I looked down on homosexuals as much as anybody I knew. I didn’t understand homosexuality. I definitely thought I was better than gay people.

I went to college, served in the military, got married and had kids. It was actually my older daughter, Erin, who got me to rethink homosexuality. Her friends in high school included some gay kids. They were just sweet, geeky, nerdy kids — same as her other friends.

That caused me to review my opinion. Old dogs can learn new tricks. But first, the old dogs have to admit they don’t already know everything. They have to admit questions are as worthwhile as answers.

In my 40s, I decided to study for ministry at my religion’s divinity school, affiliated with the University of Chicago. Some of my fellow students were gay. They were good people.

Five years later, I emerged with a Master of Divinity degree, on a one-way trip to Columbus. I’ve learned a lot about Indiana in my years here. I’ve met many good, decent people. Some of them are gay.

When the bill known as HJR-3 came before the Indiana Legislature, I knew I had to practice my faith. I could not remain silent. I joined dozens of other ministers, from a variety of faiths, at the Statehouse to oppose HJR-3. In clerical robes, we greeted legislators as they entered the building. We met with representatives and senators.

When HJR-3 reached the Senate, ministers from many traditions formed a prayer circle in the Rotunda. I joined them. We prayed for the Senate to have the wisdom to at least put it on hold for a couple of years. I rejoice that our prayers were answered.

It’s incorrect to claim all religious people oppose same-sex marriage while all secular people accept it. Many people of faith oppose HJR-3. I’m just one of the many clergy against it.

I’m not speaking for anybody but myself, but I will practice my faith.

If two people come before me and show me they’re capable of a lasting, intimate relationship, my faith calls me to treat them with equal respect, whether they’re straight or a same-sex couple.

My faith calls me to sanctify that marriage.

And I will do it. The state can pass laws, but no politician can tell me what to believe.

You have every right to disagree with me. I’m fine with that. In the United States, we’re allowed to disagree.

But I’m also allowed to practice my faith.

No government, state or federal, can dictate what I’m allowed to believe.

The Rev. Dennis McCarty is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Columbus. His opinions are his own, and members of his church may or may not agree with them. He can be reached by email at editorial@therepublic.com.

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