JUN 2 7 2014
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UNITED STATE DISTRICT COURT CASE 14-4081
Regarding: South Dakota's statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.
I am submitting this "Friend of the Court" Brief in support of the plaintiffs in their challenge
regarding the bans on same-sex marriage in South Dakota.
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND/INFORMATION
I am a graduate of Sioux Falls Seminary and I have served as a pastor for 26 (twenty-six)
years. The past nineteen (19) years have been spent serving churches in South Dakota. I
currently serve as the founding pastor of New Joy Community Church (UNITED CHURCH of
Christ), in Sioux Falls, SD. As a pastor, serving a church with about 25% of the church
partiCipants defining their sexual identity as GLBTQ (Gay Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender &
Questioning) I will be living with the decision handed down in this case.
My wife and I have two adult children and a grandson. My wife and I, along with our
children and grandchild all live in South Dakota. As a family, we will be living with the
decision handed down in this case.
BAN OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE REMINESENT OF "NEGRO" AND "WHITE" SEGREGATION
REGULATIONS/LAWS PRIOR TO 1960's
I believe the ban on same-sex marriage needs to be declared unconstitutional, null and.
The current state of affairs reminds me of the arguments in favor of the supposedly
"separate but equal" laws that applied to African Americans and Anglo Americans prior to
the early 1960's
It was the realization that "separate" is hardly ever "equal" that stimulated the advocates
of desegregation and resulted in laws aimed at eliminating the barriers imposed on African
Americans by Anglo American institutions of education, by Anglo employers and the Anglo
business designations of "Negro" and "White" lunch counters, bathrooms and water
fountains, The "separate but equal" practice of segregation identified "Negros" as second-
Segregation laws resulted in the Pentagon (Home of the US Department of Defense)
constructed with twice the number of bathrooms necessary to serve the number of military
personnel and civilians employed in that facility. Why? Because an "equal" number of
bathrooms in the Pentagon were deSignated as "Negro" and "Whites only,"
Closer to Home, as a Pastor, I have seen the pain and stigma created by laws that uphold
Marriage INEQUALITY. Committed same-sex couples are "second-class" citizens in South
Dakota. Such couples do not have the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits that
accrue to heterosexual couples who are in a legal marriage.
As a pastor, I applaud legislation and regulations that uphold the personal rights of
individuals who are in a marriage relationship. Spouses in a legal marriage relationship still
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have privacy rights. However, the individuals who are legally married do have rights,
benefits, and responsibilities that accrue to the couple as a legal entity.
I do not see legalizing same-sex marriages as detrimental to the functions of the state of
South Dakota or the United States. And I cannot think of any detrimental impact on the
institution of marriage if both different-sex and same-sex marriages create a valid contract
in the eyes of the state of South Dakota.
On the other hand, the concerns of the twelve (12) individuals identified in the text of the
lawsuit do outline significant detrimental effects for GLBTQ individuals or couples. I see no
reason to repeat the issues identified in the text of the suit.
BAN OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND RELIGIOUS CONCERNS
I serve as a pastor within a denomination that traces it's lineage back to the good ship,
MAYFLOWER and the saints we now call Pilgrims. These "refuges" from England insisted
that religion, Christian or otherwise, is to be a matter of individual conscience and choice.
Roughly 170 years later, the first amendment to the Constitution of this new nation states
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for
a redress of grievances. H
A. Supporters of the ban insist that same-sex marriage threatens the institution of
heterosexual marriage. Personally, I find it hard to believe that a legally married
same-sex couple will threaten my marriage!
B. More to the pOint: Supporters of the ban also insist the "traditional" definition of
marriage is the union of one MAN and one WOMAN
a. In my perception what's implied is, "God validates this argument in the
Creation story found in the book of Genesis in The Bible."
As I see it, these two arguments for the ban of same-sex marriage (A & B) are cited by
vocal Christians who interpret The Bible very differently than many other Christians.
But most important: As a Christian pastor in favor of marriage equality, I compare these
attempts to interject "Christian values" into civil legislation violates the SPIRIT (If not the
letter) of the First Amendment. In addition, the ban of same-sex marriage also violates the
rights of individuals as named in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Supporters of the ban on same-sex marriage also talk about the redefining of marriage as if
marriage and the rights of married individuals have not been redefined in the history of the
United States. The implication is, of course, that such a redefinition will have a negative
effect on the institution of marriage, including the potential destruction of the institution of
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However, I would point out that...
1. Marriage was essentially redefined when women (married and single) were
determined to be capable of the privilege of voting. Prior to this the "traditional view"
of marriage insisted the husband spoke or voted on his wife's behalf.
2. Marriage was redefined when it was determined that women had the right to own
property as an individual instead of the husband controlling all wealth and property
3. Marriage was redefined when it was determined that every person, including those
who were married, had a right to their own privacy. Spouses are no longer given
unauthorized access to personal and private information.
4. Marriage was redefined when it was determined there was no legitimate or
constitutional reason for laws making it illegal for a black person to marry a white
Each one of the four changes listed above were opposed because "The change was a
threat, a death-dealing blow, and would cause society to be harmed."
HOWEVER, as a Christian pastor I promote this FIFTH change in the definition of civil
marriage. I believe every competent adult in the United States should be allowed to
exercise the right to choose the adult they desire as their mate, regardless of race, religion,
or sexual identity.
1 believe the ban on same-sex marriages creates a mentality that GLBTQ individuals are
second-class citizens. This, in turn, gives tacit permission for the discrimination that is
experienced by GLBTQ people.
In closing, my support for same-sex marriage is based on the civil rights of citizens of our
country. There are those who insist that when same-sex marriages are legal, the church
will be FORCED to solemnize such marriages. (I would refer to the First Amendment here)
One example: The state recognizes the reality of broken relationships and the validity of
divorce and then the right to marry again. This civil right is not recognized by the Roman
Catholic Church. The reality of divorce has NOT impacted the Roman Catholic Churches
definition of sacramental marriage and the process of annulment required before a divorced
person marries again.
1 rest my case!
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