In March of 2008, my congregation became the first and only religious community in all of Great Britain to refuse to host legal unions for straight couples until we were allowed to treat same-sex couples equally. Recently, we have been overjoyed to see our cause moving forward as a decision of the House of Lords supported lifting the ban on registering civil partnerships in religious premises. There is still a ways to go before this becomes law, but the direction is worthy of celebration!
We can take some small amount of credit for movement toward justice. There are many others to thank. Baron Waheed Ali, who sponsored the move in the Lords is high on my personal heroes list at the moment. I am also grateful to the Quakers, Liberal Jews, and members of the Metropolitan Community Church who also took up the banner of this cause along the way.
And now, with movement in the right direction, it would be natural to sit back and relax, pleased with ourselves and our progress. And here I must offer my greatest and most profound thanks to Lillian Ladele.
You see, it was Lillian's refusal, supported by her handlers at the Christian Institute, to do her job as a Registrar in the London borough of Islington that awakened my congregation to the injustice in the Civil Partnership Act in the first place. Lillian found herself asked to register same-sex civil partnerships. "No way", said the unwed mother and devout Christian, "I won't condone that sin!" as opposed to all the other sins with which she seemed to have no problem.
And now, just when the supporters of same-sex partnership justice are at risk of becoming complacent, Lillian has come to the rescue once again!!
As her latest appeal against her repeated losses in the courts failed utterly to interest Britain's Supreme Court, she is considering taking the issue to the European Court of Human Rights.
As apathy is the enemy of justice, Lillian Ladele has become its unexpected friend. By reminding us that there are people everywhere who would be happy to abridge the freedoms of anyone not like them, she refreshes our determination to struggle on!
Thank you Lillian! The struggle for justice could not succeed without you!