Saturday, July 4, 2015

Also Time for a Rainbow Flag

On this Fourth of July weekend, I am waving not only an American flag but also a rainbow flag. I’m thinking about the over 20 couples I have stood with when they exchanged wedding vows but had no marriage certificate for me to sign, because they could not obtain one on account of their same gender. 

Last week, on June 26, the Supreme Court announced its historic ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. This has been a day prayed for, longed for---and worked for--for decades. This ruling has, in one single day, made our nation “a more perfect union.” 

Literally minutes after the ruling was announced, I gave a keynote address to the alumni of Starr King School for the Ministry. In the room were people who had been working towards this moment for ten, twenty, and even fifty years. In the room were people whose love and commitment had not yet been recognized by the state in which they live and serve. When I named the fact that this historic day came about in no small part by the efforts of my seminary’s alumni, tears and cheers came forth. 

My denomination, Unitarian Universalism, has been ordaining openly gay and lesbian ministers for over 40 years. Twenty years ago, we as a denomination affirmed our commitment to marriage equality. But activists among us have been working toward more sensitivity and cultural acceptance for gay people and gay marriage for much, much longer than this. And so this Supreme Court ruling is worthy of now raising a rainbow flag!!!

It wasn’t lost on me that on that very day, President Obama delivered the eulogy at the memorial service for Reverend Clementa Pinckney who, along with eight of his parishioners, was killed by a young man infected by white supremacist rhetoric. 

That racism lurks in our society is undeniable. Seven African American churches have burned down over the past week. The rhetoric of hate and fear is pernicious. And it must be called out.

Common sense calls for the symbols of this hatred to be taken off all government property. And so the Confederate flag has come down from government property in Alabama on the executive order of the governor. Next week the South Carolina legislature will most likely so the same. 

Even NASCAR officials are grappling with what to do--and requesting suspension of this flag in respect to the victims of the Charleston shootings. And episodes of the Duke of Hazzard have been pulled... 

Flags are potent symbols. We should take care and consider what kind of flag we wave. 
Sometimes on the Fourth of July, I have pulled out an American flag. Sometimes I have pulled out a flag that displays the planet earth, wanting to lift up the dignity of people all the earth over. 

This Fourth of July, I return to the American flag in celebration of our nation becoming a more perfect union. And I take out a rainbow flag, in solidarity with my many gay and lesbian friends who now can receive the same legal benefits of marriage that I do.


  1. It was awesome and awe inspiring to experience the reaction at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Portland, OR when we heard the announcement about the Supreme Court's Ruling on Marriage Equality. An explosion of LOVE, JOY, and SUCCESS. Then the following days of workshops on justice making, activism, organizing, community building, and worship had so much more purpose, meaning an HOPE! - Rich

  2. Rich, I can't agree more!
    Thanks for your comment,