2015 in Review: Marriage Equality, Mass Shootings, Pope Francis and Islamic State

The Rev. Madison Shockley | Truthdig | December 25, 2015

In the realm of religion, the No. 1 story of 2015 was provided by a nonreligious institution: the Supreme Court of the United States. The justices’ 5-to-4 ruling declaring that no one may be deprived of the freedom to marry—a liberty that they ruled is guaranteed in the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment—now means the choice to wed someone of the same gender cannot be legally denied.

The opposition has continued to complain that the decision impinges on the religious liberty of those who oppose same-gender-loving couples, yet there is nothing in the ruling that requires religious bodies to participate, allow or in any way support same-sex marriage. The ruling is solely relevant to the civil courts and jurisdictions that authorize marriage licenses. Once a license is issued, the couple may be married by anyone authorized and willing to perform the ceremony.

What really makes this a religion story is that the ruling allows clergy, congregations and denominations who support same-gender couples to freely and fully practice their beliefs. Until this ruling, ministers who performed same-sex weddings in states where they were illegal could not have those sacred ceremonies legally recognized in the same way that the ceremonies performed for female-male couples are.

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