Hello there -- Theo, CR's administrative assistant, here! Soulforce is a significant "force" to reckon with as the people in this organization pursue an aggressive strategy for 2004. The below item is not part of the "strategy" as such, but will be used in propaganda fashion as members of Soulforce join in the blatant defiance of law which forbids at the present time the performing of even a civil ceremony of "marriage" for same-sex couples!
Friday, February 27, 2004
Three Soulforce Couples to Marry in San Francisco Monday, March 1, 2004
Tulsa Minister Rev. Leslie Penrose to Officiate in California
Soulforce Director of Operations, Karen Weldin, and Susanne Bain, partners for 14 years, will be married in San Francisco, CA on Monday, March 1, 2004 with Tulsa minister, Rev. Leslie Penrose officiating. Also being married that day are Soulforce volunteers Jeannine Janson and Mari Irvin, and Fernando Este and Don Glass.
Jeannine Janson and Mari Irvin were married in a religious service at St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco in April 1998 but now through the March 1 ceremony will have their marriage recognized by civil authorities in San Francisco.
Mari Irvin is the Co-Chair of the Soulforce ELCA Denominational Team as well as a board member for Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Minisitries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project Jeannine Janson is Co-Chair of Lutherans Concerned of North America. Fernando Este is a current board member of Soulforce in Oklahoma and Don Glass is past member of the Soulforce in Oklahoma Advisory Board. All 6 of the people involved have been on numerous Soulforce direct actions.
Rev. Penrose, UCC minister of Community of Hope, Tulsa, will fly to San Francisco where the couples have made arrangements to obtain civil marriage licenses and participate in the marriage ceremonies. The couples have appointments at the San Francisco Court House for a license and civil marriage ceremony on Monday, March 1st, beginning at 12 noon.
Also accompanying the couples will be Phil and Randi Reitan, from Eden Prairie, MN. Phil serves on the Board of Directors of Soulforce, Inc.
Those living in the San Francisco area are invited to be present during the civil ceremony at the Court House at 12 noon.
The opportunity for gay and lesbian couples to go to San Francisco and be married is a result of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's political and legal challenge to California law. The San Francisco County Clerk's Office began issuing marriage licenses on February 12, 2004, to gay and lesbian couples who apply for one. An attempt by conservative groups to put a stop to the issuing of marriage licenses failed in two San Francisco courts.
"Monday is a day I have dreamed about for years," said Karen Weldin. "I never realized just how excited we would be at the thought of being able to receive a civil marriage license even though we have been emotionally and spiritually married for years. To publicly go on record and acknowledge our love and commitment and to embrace the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage is wonderful."
"I, too, am thrilled and excited," said Susanne Bain. "I have the opportunity to participate in a civil marriage with the person I love and have lived with for years." "I wish more lesbian and gay couples would go to San Francisco and get married." Weldin and Bain have been in a committed relationship for fourteen years.
"Finally my dreams come true," said Fernando Este who has been in a committed relationship with Don Glass for five years. "Nothing is going to change in our relationship after Monday, but getting married in San Francisco is a confirmation of our love and commitment."
"What a rare and wonderful historic opportunity this is" said Don Glass. "I am also aware just how difficult society makes it for same gender couples. It is exciting to be a part of history."
"Going to San Francisco to officiate at these weddings is an act of discipleship for me - something I am called to do both by the gospel and by my ordination vows," said Rev. Penrose. "It is sad and disturbing to me that some couples in my congregation have to go to another state or even another country to have their civil rights honored and their relationships treated with respect and dignity. But because discrimination is the law of the land for same-sex couples, that is exactly what they must do. So, I'm going to stand with them. I'm going to the one place in this country that I can say NO - legally and religiously -- to laws and practices that dishonor and discriminate. I am going to say YES to love!"
Rev. Penrose was charged five years ago with violating church law in the United Methodist denomination for participating in and conducting Holy Unions for gay and lesbian couples. Rev. Penrose resigned March 4th, 1999.
Gay and lesbian couples do not have to be a California resident to marry in California. Requirements for a California Marriage License can be found at: http://sfgov.org/site/countyclerk_page.asp?id=5565.
If you wish to celebrate this special occasion, you may donate to Soulforce in the name of these couples at http://www.soulforce.org/main/join.shtml. Put a congratulatory note in notes section.
See also Affirmation's Archives:
In Search of What God Has Joined Together
Leslie Penrose, Statement of Commitment Testimony (April 27, 1998)
History of Community of Hope
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