Some area clergy members are displeased with the Illinois General Assembly’s actions this week that altered state law to allow gay couples to be legally married.
But they do not plan to be outside the UIC Forum on Nov. 20 in protest when Gov. Pat Quinn holds an elaborate ceremony to mark his signing of the bill into law.
In fact, the Rev. Patrick Lyons said Friday he comprehends why gay people desire the concept of marriage, with the legal benefits it includes when it comes to taxes, inheritance and medical issues.
“I don’t have a problem with all people having those benefits,” Lyons said. “I just wish they weren’t calling it ‘marriage.' ”
Lyons said he believes this viewpoint is common in his congregation at the Our Lady of Knock parish in Calumet City.
“I think our people are respectful of the idea of equal rights. We’re just concerned about how they’re going about trying to achieve them.”
Both Lyons and the Rev. Paul Appold, pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansing, said they would not be willing to officiate at a marriage between a same-gender couple, and Lyons said he doubts any such couple would approach him for a marriage ceremony.
“The position of the Catholic Church on this issue is quite clear,” he said. “I’d be surprised if anyone contacted us.”
Neither put themselves into the category with Bishop Lance Davis, head of the New Zion Covenant church in Dolton, who was a leader of the African-American Clergy Coalition that tried to inspire members of the Legislature’s black caucus to side with conservative Republican legislators to vote down a gay marriage bill.
That group’s efforts were less than successful. Only two of the black caucus’s members in the Illinois House voted “no.” Area members such as state Reps. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City; Will Davis, D-Homewood; Elgie Sims and Marcus Evans, both D-Chicago; and Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, all voted “yes” on the bill, along with state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights.
Bishop Larry Trotter of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago helped lead the effort that included pre-recorded telephone messages against gay marriage that featured the voice of former area state Sen. James Meeks, pastor at Salem Baptist Church in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood.
“We stand united with our brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in our joint opposition to any deviation from traditional marriages of male and female; not withstanding the rulings of the court systems of the land or acts of legislative bodies in support of same-sex marriage,” Trotter said, in a prepared statement.
Appold, whose congregation is affiliated with the Missouri Synod, and Lyons said they emphasize, and they sense their parishioners support, the idea of compassion for all people, even if they are not heterosexual in orientation.
“God has a vision of marriage being between one man and one woman,” Appold said. “But we know some people do not fit into that.
“Absolutely, we have great compassion for all people,” he said.
Lyons said, “We may have family members or siblings who make decisions we don’t approve of, but that doesn’t stop us from loving them, even though we would prefer they make different choices in life.”