These Nashville attorneys fought for marriage equality at the Supreme Court, in their United Methodist church

The United Methodist Church has been preyed on from the heretic on the left for years because they were considered weak in their faith at times. Even a few of their own ministers fell from grace over the issue. Why might you ask? We suspect it is because as a church some feel they can save mankind from the depths of hell through the grace of man. It is a little ego trip that the church should drop, but the seed was planted years ago and the weeds were never cleared out of the church.

Romans 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 
Romans 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 
Romans 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

How do those that worship sin within the church get away with it….. in the attempt to turn guilt onto yourself they remind you of Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Now the Supreme’s wish to drag this issue, for which they have no jurisdiction, through the mud.


By Holly Meyer, USA TODAY NETWORK

Attorneys Phillip Cramer and William Harbison helped make history by bringing one of the cases that culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision permitting same-sex couples to marry in America.

As they prepared for that 2015 legal fight with a team of lawyers, Cramer and Harbison also were helping their United Methodist congregation wrestle with LGBT inclusion and support of marriage for all.

The nearly simultaneous debates gave the two Nashville attorneys a front row seat to the separate, but connected church and state fights that continue to be divisive today.

They decided to share their unique perspective in a new book, “The Fight for Marriage: Church Conflicts and Courtroom Contests.” It details how their Tennessee case became a part of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision all while Belmont United Methodist Church was moving toward becoming an inclusive congregation.

Cramer and Harbison’s book was released earlier this spring as the United Methodist Church prepares to answer sexuality questions that have vexed the global denomination for decades. The Nashville attorneys, whose faith informs their justice work in and out of the courtroom, hope their experiences can help others wrestling with LGBT inclusion.

“Sharing Belmont’s story with other congregations and with the church as a whole could show that there is a path forward and one way at least that, that path could go,” said Cramer, who is an attorney with the Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison law firm.

“And a friendly and not divisive path,” said Harbison, adding to his colleague’s thought.

Sexuality debate in the United Methodist Church

While marriage for same-sex couples is legal in the U.S., the second-largest Protestant denomination in America does not ordain LGBT people as clergy nor does it permit its ministers to perform same-sex weddings. Its Book of Discipline, which lays out the law and doctrine of the denomination, says the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

“I think the lawsuit is more easily accepted than the changes within the church because of some people’s view of scripture,” Harbison said.

The sexuality issues threaten to split the United Methodist Church. After a 2016 deferment at a denominational meeting, the greater church is expected to address the them during a special session set for February 2019 in St. Louis.

Unlike the greater church, the Belmont United Methodist congregation already knows where it stands on LGBT inclusion. But it was not a quick discernment process.

Before it could move forward, the church needed to figure out how to tackle the contentious conversation in a respectful and productive way. Unlike in a courtroom, the parameters for how to debate the issue are not as well defined.

“You can’t just submit a legal brief and have an arbiter say you win and you’re done,” Cramer said. “You actually have got to talk to one another.”

And, they needed to listen, too.

The importance of listening

The church held dozens of listening sessions, which led to the creation of a faith statement that emphasized the dignity of all people. More listening sessions followed before they joined the Reconciling Ministries Network, which is made up of United Methodist congregations and groups that support inclusion for all.

“I really credit those listening sessions with both changing hearts and minds, but also keeping us together,” Cramer said.

The stakes were high.

On March 6, 2015, the Rev. Pamela Hawkins, who was Belmont’s associate pastor at the time, officiated the wedding of a same-sex couple in a state where it was legal. She knew doing so went against the denomination’s rules and put her at risk for being disciplined. Hawkins did it anyway and was suspended.

Belmont’s congregation rallied to support her and continued their push for inclusion in the greater church.

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision. Soon after, same-sex couples were marrying in Tennessee and beyond.

Whether they were in church or court, Harbison and Cramer came to realize that personal stories were a key part of the fight for marriage equality. They found the right plaintiffs for the case and listened as church members to shared their experiences.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage for someone to tell their story and face potential rejection,” Cramer said. “It’s not an abstract issue. It’s real people.”

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