Dick Weston-Jones: The clergy’s rights

March 8, 2014 

Russ Douthat, in his March 4 column “The terms of surrender on same-sex marriage,” wants to protect Arizona florists and caterers from having to serve at gay weddings. Come on! They aren’t necessary for anyone’s wedding. Clergy will always have the right to decline weddings their religions don’t sanction.

I officiated, as a Unitarian Universalist minister, at my first gay wedding in 1974 before any state-issued gay licenses. A colleague had refused because he said their sexual union couldn’t create a child, the only purpose he accepted. I asked if he refused the elderly, too. He never answered. Over the years I officiated at “straight” weddings without licenses, too. Some couples declined to allow the state to intrude in this most intimate of relationships. Some objected to paying the “marriage penalty” in their tax returns.

My wife and I were married 37 years after our traditional ceremony. Our marriage was never threatened by anyone else’s wedding decision. I have four gay and 18 straight grandchildren and step-grandchildren. There could be no greater honor than for any of them to ask me to officiate at their weddings, gay or straight, with or without state licenses.

Dick Weston-Jones

Chapel Hill

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