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Gay marriage pits church against state

Discussing homosexuality in a religious context is like playing with matches around a powder keg. Proceed at your own risk.

However, with the recent overturning of California’s Prop. 8 and legalization of gay marriages in New York and Washington state, that powder keg has been rolled down the center aisle of churches nationwide.

The most recent twist on the story came in the form of a protest at the San Francisco recorder’s office, as 10 Bay Area Christian leaders sat in a circle singing religious songs — in support of gay rights. They were occupying the space where straight couples needed to go to obtain a marriage license.

The annual protest is over The City’s inability to grant same-sex marriage licenses until all the appeals against the Prop. 8 ruling are exhausted.

Karen Oliveto, a San Francisco Methodist pastor who took part in the protest, stated her convictions as she was handcuffed and led off by the police:

“We’re just going to keep knocking at the door until justice is available to all people.”

While many people associate church leaders with anti-gay movements, people like Oliveto are becoming more and more common.

Today, nearly all the main branches of the Protestant church embrace homosexual relations and even gay clergy.

The United Methodist Church is the lone holdout, encouraging member churches to welcome gay parishioners without condoning their lifestyle.

Some, like Karen Oliveto, are looking ahead to the Methodist church’s quadrennial conference this year as an opportunity to change the church’s official position from within.

Randall Miller, a professor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, who chairs the organizing committee, hopes that this year will be the year for the church’s position to officially change.

“Moving the United Methodist step by step, and removing these barriers [to equal rights], is a greater step in making the larger [American] society more inclusive.”

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