Bishop of Chicago Steps Up for Marriage Equality

A more accurate title might be "Bishop of Chicago Continues to Step Up For Marriage Equality" because Bishop Jeffrey Lee has been such a consistent and valiant ally for equality both inside and outside the church. But the particular moment of "stepping up" I'm celebrating today was one that came out of his willingness to step up with a letter of support for marriage equality in Illinois -- a letter that made the national news reporting on the legislation as it winds its way through the legislative process.

It was a moment of great delight as I sat on my day off happily having my second cup of day off coffee and watching a second hour of day off morning news to see this quote from Bishop Lee pop up on an MSNBC report. And thanks to the "rewind/pause" feature on my remote control and an iPhone camera hard-by and VOILA: the moment was "screen captured!"

My actual favorite quote from the letter was this one:

As a Christian, I believe that our society needs all of the sources and signs of grace that we can get. As a citizen of the United States, I believe in equal protection under the law. I believe that both ends will be served when marriage equality is the law of the land in Illinois, and I am grateful to be bishop in a church that offers all couples a community of faith, love, support and accountability.

Does it matter if a bishop speaks out on the issue of civil marriage equality? You bet it does. It matters to those in Illinois who will be speaking to their representatives in letters, calls and emails that they can say their faith tradition stands for equality for all.

It matters because getting the voice of witness of an Episcopal bishop willing to stand up for civil marriage equality into the political process plays a critical role in neutralizing the voices of those who presume to speak for "people of faith" when they're really just speaking out of their own bias against gay and lesbian couples.

And it matters for fair-minded legislators who will be able to say they have had input from folks of faith on both sides of the marriage equality issue -- and at the end of the day make their decision based not on what some constituents think the Bible says about homosexuality but about what the Constitution says about equal protection.

So yes, it matters. It matters a lot. So Bravo, Bishop Lee. Bravo! May others go and do likewise.