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DOMA's defeat stirs pride

Gay pride parade celebrates recent ruling

By Christina Sanders

July 11, 2013

On June 26 the LGBT community and supporters of marriage equality collectively celebrated the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act.

In a 5-4 decision the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the act, allowing the marriage and civil unions of same-sex couples to be recognized by the federal government.

The decision happened to coincide with Cleveland’s annual pride celebration. On June 29, the LGBT community and its supporters filled the Port of Cleveland on East Ninth Street to celebrate the strides made since the gay rights movement first started back in 1975.

The rainbow, the official symbol of the LGBT community and their struggles, was found on tables that included everything from t-shirts and memorabilia to churches and religious institutions.

Five religious institutions, littered around the maze of tables and booths, in the fresh cut grass that skirts the shore of lake Erie, donned the rainbow with the words “We have pride”.

Although religious institutions have long opposed the gay rights movement, a few churches in the Cleveland area are taking a different approach.

“In the ten years that I have been here we have two primary goals, and those are to be radically inclusive and extravagantly hospitable,” said Rev. Paul Sadler of Mt. Zion, the 149-year-old church located in University Circle.

According to Sadler, Mt. Zion has been an all-inclusive institution for about forty years.
“We’re a congregation of firsts,” Sadler said. “We ordained the first openly gay male pastor, we ordained the first woman bishop; we’re just a congregation of firsts.”

Mt. Zion’s messages differs from many congregations who often use the Bible to promote a anti-homosexual message.

From Genesis in the Old Testament to Corinthians in the New Testament, religious activists who oppose homosexual relationships quote Scripture to defend their idea of the sanctity of marriage.

Sadler, however, wants to create an environment of harmony and acceptance of all. He argues that those who actively oppose homosexuality to the point of oppression aren’t practicing Christianity as they should.

“Homosexuality is something that is made a huge deal about in the conservative churches, and it is something that Jesus never said anything about,” Sadler said.

“In all of his preachings Jesus never spoke about it. If we claim to be Christians we should be following the teachings of Christ, so if he never saw a reason to make a huge deal about it then we shouldn’t be making a huge deal about it.”

Sadler feels that many of the writings in the Bible are not properly researched and are often taken out of context. Because of the antiquity of the document, some laws and writings aren’t applicable to today’s society.

“A lot of people use the bible to oppress others, while we do the research,” Sadler said.

“A lot of the things that were written about were written to address the issues of that day. They were not written to address issues of today’s society, so what was a problem then isn’t necessarily a problem of today”

Sadler and his congregation at Mt. Zion would like to focus their message around harmony and promoting core Christianity value of love and community.

While Sadler and members of his congregation spent the day working to promote peace between religious folks and the LGBT community, others came to watch and partake in the many activities going on throughout the day.

Youngsters and Cleveland State students danced the afternoon away to today’s billboard hits near a closed-off area reserved for patrons aged 13-24. Free non-alcoholic refreshments and all-beef hot dogs were provided for the mostly teenage and college-age patrons.

About 40 feet away a show was being put on for a more mature audience.

Hosted by a comedian in drag, audience members watched and giggled as drag queens from around the nation performed to everything from the most tender of love songs to rap songs filled with raunchy lyrics that would make even a sailor blush.

From 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. crowds came in and went out, but one issue stayed at the front of everyone’s mind.

“I hope that one day we can get married,” one lesbian couple said.

Another couple had harsher words for the Ohio State Legislature regarding the issue of marriage equality.

Eric and John paused on the steps of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame for quick picture as they were leaving.

As the picture was taken they posed fondly, whispering into each others’ ears, arms draped around one another.

They left the celebrations behind with words echoed by supporters of gay marriage throughout the nation.

“We deserve the same rights as everyone else! At the end of the day we’re just people! I could care less about color, gender or orientation! I just support love!”