Debate continues as homosexuals marry legally, but quietly
It's impossible to miss the fact that Massachusetts today is allowing same-sex marriages. Even more impossible is to round up the thousands of articles related to the action. Angles abound: the attempts and consequences of non-resident marriages, looming decisions of neighboring states on whether to recognize the marriages, effects the ceremonies will have on the presidential campaign and the effort to pass a federal marriage amendment, and how the debate now changes.

There are many good sites to read about all of these issues. If you're interested in the subject, make sure you bookmark the blog, by Maggie Gallagher and Eve Tushnet.

For now, Weblog is most interested in the response of the Christian community (or, rather, the Christian community that has an orthodox understanding of marriage). Several news outlets report today that religious opponents of gay marriage will in large part protest the ceremonies in silence. Or a kind of silence: Expect press releases, but not demonstrations.

"The main opponents of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, most of them conservative Christians, said they planned to keep quiet and stay out of the way as gay people began celebrating their first marriages, in part to distance themselves from any unseemly or violent protests that might take place," The New York Times reports today.

The same was true at church services yesterday, says The Boston Globe: "At some services, clergy didn't mention the same-sex marriage debate. …   And those who did used relatively quiet rhetoric."

Union Baptist Church pastor Jeffrey Brown told his congregation not to join protests today that could become violent or inflammatory. "Regardless of how you feel about this issue, those kinds of groups I want you to stay far away from," he said. "This is not a way to react. … We ought to pray there be civility and some measure of sense in the midst of all this."

Other opponents of gay marriage are spending extra time today making sure that those who oppose same-sex marriage focus on the nature of marriage rather than criticize specific homosexuals.

"Our sadness at what has happened should not lead us into anger against or vilification of any group of people, especially our homosexual brothers and sisters," Sean P. O'Malley, Boston's Roman Catholic archbishop said.

It's an important statement to make since threats to biblical values don't just come from one community, says Massachusetts Family Institute acting president Kristian Mineau. "It is a cultural war, and tragically there are those on both sides of the issue that have very hostile and militant attitudes," he told The New York Times. "I am concerned about some of the groups — the antigay groups, the homophobic groups — that discredit who we are. We want there to be a positive backlash, that people will work through the legislative process."

Article continues below

But some of today's quietness is from confusion over what exactly working through the legislative process will mean, says the Globe. "At this stage of the game, we don't know what to do," explained Troy Goode, associate pastor of New Covenant Christian Church (the largest Protestant congregation in Massachusetts). "We've done all we know how to do, and now it's in the Lord's hands."

But activists like Matt Daniels of the Alliance for Marriage say there is more to do. He'll have a press conference today laying out the movement's next steps. Likewise, expect Christian profamily groups to comment throughout the next few days on how best to defend marriage. Still, the message that seems to be emerging so far is that defenders of marriage need to spend more time explaining what marriage is for, and less time on what's wrong with homosexuality.

More on same-sex marriage:


  • Gays get Massachusetts marriage licenses | Two by two they emerged from City Hall, the nation's first gay couples set to legally marry, breaking a barrier many never believed would fall and putting the United States among four countries in the world that recognize same-sex weddings (Associated Press)

  • The 'Will & Grace' effect | With Massachusetts leading the way, gay marriage is slowly becoming a reality—and dividing generations (Newsweek)

  • Gay nuptials in the bay state | the path to the altar has been littered with lawsuits, constitutional amendments, and other legal bric-a-brac (US News & World Report)

  • Free to marry | Historic date arrives for same-sex couples in Massachusetts (The Boston Globe)

  • Gay couples apply for marriage licenses in Massachusetts | Against a backdrop of cheers, gay and lesbian couples began filling out applications for marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m. (The New York Times)

  • Gays poised to wed legally | Conservative groups, who believe the court-ordered redefinition of marriage is a social calamity for this nation, have meetings, conferences and speeches planned in Boston and the District and elsewhere, but no confrontations are planned (The Washington Times)

  • Gay couples line up for Mass. marriages | At midnight, Cambridge becomes first to issue state-sanctioned licenses (The Washington Post)

Article continues below


  • The end of the gay marriage debate? | Those of us who think this week's revolution is a terrible mistake need to do a much better job of explaining that the core question is not "Why shouldn't any couple in love be able to marry?" but something more essential: "What is marriage for?" (Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe)

  • No private affair | Marriage is about more than the man and the woman (Colleen Carroll Campbell, National Review Online)

  • Today Massachusetts, tomorrow … ? | Branch breakdown in the Bay State (William C. Duncan, National Review Online)

  • The missing governor | Have Republican leaders lost their confidence on basic moral matters? (Hadley Arkes, National Review Online)

  • A wedding toast | The question of gay marriage has always been, simply and fundamentally, about people -- their dreams, their rights, and their love (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

Federal marriage amendment:


Article continues below
  • Kerry aims to keep peace with gays | Senator John F. Kerry met privately yesterday with gay-rights groups to fortify a tenuous peace between his presidential campaign, which is seeking to neutralize gay marriage as a political wedge issue, and gay leaders who share feelings of anger and resignation toward Kerry for opposing the marriages that will begin in his home state Monday (The Boston Globe)

Other stories:

  • In middle America, a mix of hope, anxiety | In the American heartland, where billboards reading "Jesus Saves" loom beside highways and where many people proudly count themselves as Christian conservatives, the communities of gays and lesbians are awaiting the dawn of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts with a mixture of elation and apprehension (The Boston Globe)

  • For gays set to marry, some obstacles remain | Massachusetts couple struggling with issues of family and religion (The Washington Post)

  • R.I., Conn. attorneys general expected to decide on Mass. nuptials | Attorneys general in Rhode Island and Connecticut are expected to release opinions today about whether same-sex marriages from Massachusetts should be recognized in their states (The Boston Globe)

  • Next up is battle for recognition | Policies on marriages still in flux (USA Today)

  • Municipalities say residency won't be an issue | As Rhode Island and Connecticut prepare to announce today whether they will recognize same-sex marriages from Massachusetts, a number of Bay State communities said the status of gay marriage is far more fluid than the governor has declared and plan to defy his directive barring marriage licenses for same-sex couples from other states (The Boston Globe)

  • Cambridge plays host to a giant celebration (The Boston Globe)

  • Clerks in tight spot politically | Changing times exert pressure on low-profile staff (The Boston Globe)

  • Same-sex couples heading to Bay State to marry | Despite Governor Mitt Romney's threats of legal action against clerks who issue marriage licenses to out-of-state same-sex couples, dozens of gay couples from the Empire State plan to marry in Massachusetts (The Boston Globe)

  • Provincetown's days in sun are coming early this year | May is what locals here call the shoulder season, the short peaceful time of year between the harsh winter and the tourist-clogged summer, when residents of this gay-friendly seaside town can relax and have the place to themselves. But not this year. (The New York Times)

Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to

What is Weblog?

Check out Books & Culture's weekly weblog, Content & Context.

See our past Weblog updates:

May 14b | 14a | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10
May 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3
April 30 | 29 | 28 | 27 | 26
April 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19
April 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12
April 8 | 7 | 5
and more, back to November 1999

Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
Previous Weblog Columns: