Object 69

Equal Rights

2044, Edinburgh, Scotland

This landmark speech was delivered by the Stewart-Walker family in St. Stephen’s Church, Edinburgh, and signalled a shift in how religious groups adapted to rapid shifts in cultural mores:

So, one woman is walking across a bridge and she sees a man on the edge, ready to jump off.

She shouts out, "Don't do it!" and he says, just teetering on the edge, "Why not?"

"There's too much to live for!" she says. "What's there to live for?" he asks.

She thinks about this for a second and asks in reply, "Are you atheist or religious?" and he says, "I'm religious."

So she says, "Me too! Christian or Muslim?" He says, "Christian!"

She says, "Me too! Catholic or Evangelical?" He says, "Evangelical!"

She says, "Me too! Pentecostalist or Environmentalist?" He says, "Environmentalist!"

She says, "Wow, me too! Environmentalist North or Environmentalist South?" He says, "Environmentalist North!"

She says, "Incredible, me too! Environmentalist North, Reformed or Environmentalist North, Grouped?" He says, "Environmentalist North, Grouped!"

She says, "Amazing, so am I! Environmentalist North, Grouped and Synced or Environmentalist North, Grouped and Distributed?" He says, "Environmentalist North, Grouped and Distributed!"

And then she says, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushes him off.

It's an oldie but a goodie. And, you know, it really does sum up what we're all here about today.

Because even though this family of people is gathered today in thousands, millions of churches,

All of us believing in the Lord,

All of us with so much in common,

We just can't help obsessing over these little differences between us.

And, hey, it's not always a life and death thing like our friends on the bridge.

But if there’s one thing the Bible teaches us, it’s that life and death isn't about our bodies. It's about our souls.

The death of the soul can be something that's hard to see.

It's hidden within each and every one of us, and sometimes it can die if true justice is denied.

If we can't share our worship of the one whom we believe in.

Or if we can't be with the ones whom we truly love.

It's hard to imagine what that might be like. If you're like us, it hurts just to be apart for a day, let alone a week.

Or a month, or a year. Or a lifetime.

So we count ourselves truly lucky — blessed, even — that we can always be together, wherever we are.

That's what makes us different. That's what makes people scared.

And that's why, even though we can be together, we can't be together in a way that is recognised by the people and the church that we love.

Once upon a time, people with different skin colours couldn't marry. Can you imagine that?

And it wasn't that long ago that men couldn't marry men, and women couldn't marry women. Maybe you have parents who remember that.

I'm sure we all thank God we don't live in those times any more.

And now people tell us, they say that a marriage should only be between two people! But why?

Because marriage is for procreation? Nonsense.

Because it's best for children to be brought up by two parents, and two parents only? Ask our children, ask the children of all of those people like us, whether they feel uncared for.

We can give them just as much love as any other family can. And we will always be there for them.

I know it can seem strange to see all four of us, standing here before you, talking about marriage,

Talking like this, in the way we do.

Yes, it seems like a good trick. But it's how we think. It's how we were brought up, and it's how so many people are brought up, always together, always in contact, wherever we are.

But we love and care for each other as much as you do.

We met each other at church, just as so many of you did.

We get into arguments about who should do the chores.

We disagree about where to go on holiday.

And we feel just as proud of our children's achievements as you do.

We feel so lucky to be together. But there's one thing missing from our souls.

It's the recognition of being truly married in the eyes of God. It matters to you — that's why so many of you have chosen to be married.

And it matters to us.

So we would ask each and every one of you to look into your hearts, and to imagine not being allowed, not being permitted to marry the one you love.

And we would ask you to support us in our fight. Support us in our goal for equal rights, equal recognition, in the eyes of the state, in the eyes of God,

And in your eyes. Because for as much as we may seem different, we truly are the same.

Thank you all.

God bless us all.