OK, let me back up, because this gets complicated. First, let me explain who this person even is. My husband’s parents divorced some years back, and his Dad has since remarried. This created a family of blended adults, because Scott’s stepmother has a son of her own, named Andy. Andy went on to marry Dawn, and Scott went on to marry me. So. Dawn is my step-sister-in-law. If there’s even technically such a thing. That’s the short version. We don’t see nearly enough of Andy and Dawn, who are awesome people with a couple of amazing daughters, but I’ve connected with them on Facebook.
More back story. Scott comes from a Presbyterian family. So, for that matter, do I, but I’m pretty agnostic when nuts come down to bolts. Andy and Dawn are also Presbyterians, and they are, in fact, both attending Louisville Seminary. (There are two branches of Presbyterianism, and Dawn and Andy are PCUSA, for anyone interested.) Dawn has been in seminary for what must feel like the last thousand years or so, and she is heading into the final days as a student and on to her first days as a confirmed minister.
Last year, or maybe the year before (I’m not up on my all-things-Presbyterian lore here like I ought to be), Dawn attended the church’s General Assembly and stood up to tell the entire body why PCUSA ought to support same-sex marriage. That alone is brave. There are certainly other straight allies in the church. Many others. But not so many willing to face down a room full of heated opposition from Leviticus-wielding right wingers and milquetoast un-support from allies who thought the time wasn’t right to bring the issue up for debate. She faced immediate backlash, in the form of dirty looks and mutters for the rest of the convention, though she certainly also received rallying support from friends and interested others.
Fast forward to now. Last year, the General Assembly had some important vote that allowed partnered homosexual ministers to be ordained. I’m not exactly certain on the technicalities here, but it wasn’t full equality. Yesterday, that full equality in ordination came about. I know there’s a ratification period when a certain number of churches have to favor an Assembly decision before it becomes church practice. So I don’t know if that voting period came due yesterday, or if the General Assembly did something different yesterday, but the upshot is that sexual orientation is no longer a bar to ordination in the PCUSA, and openly gay pastors can now be ordained. Some right wing feathers are majorly ruffled.
And oh, by the way, Dawn’s candidacy meeting was yesterday, too. Yeah. Talk about timing.
She endured a shouting match that derailed what should have been a routine procedure. She should have left that meeting with her committee’s full support. She should have been recommended and sent to the floor of the presbytery for full confirmation. Instead, right wingers attacked every aspect of her life, and her instructors shouted around her while she sat and listened. She left the meeting in tears.
It wasn’t a total loss. She is being recommended. But to protect her from further attacks, her committee decided to wait before sending her to the floor for confirmation. She is pretty sure the whole thing boils down to her standing up at that General Assembly. And she’s right, no question. But it also very clearly boils down to timing. The right-wingers lost a major battle yesterday, and they lashed out at a convenient target in Dawn. This is a woman who embodies everything good about that church. I’m no big fan of organized religion, but what Dawn has is something special, and it’s not something to be ignored. Her gift is being delayed for absurd political reasons, and I’m outraged on her behalf.
Which brings me to my own friends and supporters. It sounds like justice will eventually prevail here, in the long run, but Dawn still deserves a rallying cry. Can I see a huge show of support for her here and in my Facebook comments? I’m not tagging because she’s kept her own Facebook page tactfully vague, but Dawn, you know who you are. You’re one of the fighters, whose heart and mind are filled with beauty and purpose. You keep right on rocking their Presbyterian boat.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.