States on opposite coasts took opposite directions on legal unions between same-sex partners. While Vermont legislators moved toward allowing "civil unions" between same-sex couples, California voters approved by a 3-2 margin Proposition 22, legally defining marriage to exclude same-sex couples.
The actions underscore how divided the nation is on gay rights. ELCA members are no exception.
"There is increasing awareness that gay and lesbian people, whatever one thinks of the origin of that experience, are better served by committed relationships, rather than being forced to choose between promiscuity and celibacy," says Paul Egertson, bishop of the Southern California (West) Synod. "A significant number of people in this church want to see change."
Walter Mees, pastor of Palisades Lutheran Church, Pacific Palisades, Calif., cites several points in supporting Proposition 22. Tradition: "Our nation has never had any definition of marriage other than being between a man and woman." Nature: "If you look at a man and woman, it works, not just physically but spiritually." Nurture: "About 25 percent of teenagers go through major questions. But when it all sorts out, studies show 2 percent are hard-wired gay, which means 20 percent need to be encouraged in a direction that is best for society, which is heterosexual." Love: "I can't in good conscience tell people that it's safe to do what the Bible says is not pleasing to God to do."
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