Clergywoman of New Mexico refuses to sign marriage licenses until same-sex marriage is legalized

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In a standout decision, Reverend Gail Marriner of Unitarian Universalist church is not signing marriage licenses for the sake of marriage equality.

“I do religious ceremonies for anyone who wants to get married, but what I don’t do is act as an agent for the state,” the Harvard Divinity School graduate and minister of 16 years told 429Magazine. 

Marriner explained that marriage often encompasses two parts: the religious ceremony and the civil union—the former being the ritualistic aspect of marriage and the latter being the1,400 state-sanctioned benefits associated with it. Her decision not to sign licenses is in response to what she calls government unfairly asking the clergy to perform both pieces.

“The love and commitment in same-sex couples is just as important and holy as mixed-sex couples,” Marriner said, emphasizing she could not, with good conscious, grant rights to heterosexual couples that are not equally accessible to the LGBT community. 

Marriner’s strong stance developed over years of conversation with other clergy persons and through personal reflection. As a minister in Minnesota and Texas she did sign licenses, but after relocating to New Mexico 18 months ago, decided against “playing favorites” in the church. Marriner’s new congregation has been “delighted,” and understanding of her decision as a statement of personal conscious.

This is not to say that Marriner does not perform mix-sex marriages. Its just that another clergy member or the Justice of Peace will have to sign the certificate instead. “What I want the larger community to take away from my actionsis there are people out there of faith who support marriage equality,” she said “You can’t paint religion with a broad brush and say it belongs to people who don’t see LGBT folks as fully human and entitled to the same rights as everyone else.”

Whether or not the larger community is moved by Marriner’s message could be reflected in the 2014 election in which the New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee has the chance to approve House Joint Resolution 3, which would allow New Mexicans to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.

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