Natasha attended Harding in the 1990s, majoring in political science. She is a United Methodist pastor who lives in Benton, Arkansas.
I support same-sex marriage. My denomination has mixed views of support. The official stance of the United Methodist Church is that homosexuality is incompatible to our beliefs. As a UM pastor, I am not allowed to officiate same-sex marriages or allow them to take place in our church.
I think my viewpoint of same-sex marriages may have become a bit stronger while teaching political science and having students address that issue. We were studying DOMA (defense of marriage act), and I asked my students if this act was necessary and did it impede on the rights of others especially as it relates to the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” in the US constitution (Article IV section 1). In summary this article says that states must recognize other legal documents by other states. For example, birth certificates, any public record ... marriage licenses.
If a couple were to get married in Rhode Island, shouldn't their marriage also be recognized in other states? I also illustrated that when my husband and I moved or traveled from state to state, we were not required to re-marry or reapply for a marriage license. Therefore, does not this act and others violate the “Full Faith and Credit Clause?” The point of the exercise was to prove that DOMA was unconstitutional.
Many of my students thought homosexuals as vile, sick people who were lost and nasty. They would often use derogatory language in reference to their relationships, etc. It was horrible. Horrible because there were open and closeted students who attended the college where I taught. Many were student leaders and actively involved in the student body in fraternities and sororities. (Homosexuality in the black community is heavily frowned upon.) Ultimately they were unable to see how DOMA was unconstitutional and violated a civil right for those in same-sex relationships.
I honestly am shocked that it has taken so long for groups to challenge DOMA. Perhaps my view of same-sex marriages would be different if I did not believe that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. My growth as a pastor has helped me to encounter relationships with many same-sex couples who are in amazing relationships that reflect God's love. I don't think my denomination will agree about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Currently, my conference is exploring ways of creating dialogue that is healthy and affirming of both sides.