Ruminations on MLK Day: “We’re All God’s People”

Today, as our country celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I can’t help but reflect on some of the ironies I encounter every day, living in Arlington, Virginia. These reflections are inspired by the headlines of my local rag, The Washington Post, and the wheels which turn while I peruse them with my morning coffee in hand.
I may be a bit off my facts here, but, if I’m not mistaken, it was in 1969 that Virginia — amongst the last of the states, if not the last state to do so — finally overruled its long-standing tradition of disallowing biracial couples to wed.
A few days ago, our local headlines screamed the announcement that Virginia, not finding its law banning same sex marriage to be enough, had passed a bill in the state legislature for a Constitutional Amendment banning contracts, including marriage, between persons of the same sex. This legislation will require that the amendment be added to the ballot for ratification by voters this November. It’s got a couple of hoops yet to jump through to get to our ballot, but all signs point toward it being a slam dunk for the conservatives in our state.
Seems to me: if this Constitutional Amendement gets ratified, then we Virginians are in for a long wait for same sex marriage, even as the rest of our country sees the writing on the wall and begins to change its laws to be less discriminatory toward same sex couples.
So, where are the ironies, you ask?
This morning, I read a headline about a Catholic church in Alexandria, which is just a few waves down the Potomac from Arlington, which proudly represents its diverse heritage. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church was founded in 1915 and was established with the idea in mind of serving African Americans. Today, the church is equally representative of whites and blacks and was proud to pay tribute to the late Dr. King for his efforts as a leader in the civil rights movement. It’s a House, according to the Post in which “We’re All God’s People.”
After I put the article down, I began thinking about MLK Day a couple of years ago, when Bush stood with black leaders and took credit and sided with those who have taken a stand for equal rights, even though he was currently undertaking a campaign and speaking frequently about the need for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to “protect marriage” from gays and lesbians. I’ve long come to accept and, as an “Inside the Beltway” resident, ignore the inevitable: hearing politicans speak out both sides of their mouths. But, this really ticked me off!
How can you say that you stand for equality and civil rights when you are campaigning against equality and civil rights by introducing discrimination into our Constitution?
We are all God’s people.
Why do some — President Bush, the Virginia State Legislature, the Conservatives — get to pick and choose who counts?
So, today, as I celebrate MLK Day, I think about the risks he took. I think about the risks the people who stood with Dr. King took. I think about the patience needed to see a group of people who are discriminated against finally prevail over backward laws, which were established on the basis of fear.
And, I think, we can at least begin by knowing that legal sanction or not, our relationships are blessed in the heart of the Great Spirit that loves and embraces us all.

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