Same Sex Marriage: a local pastor's support for marriage rights

Categories: Civil Society
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Reporter's notebook: Local couples fight for gay rights 

Outside Rev. Paul Eknes-Tucker's modest blue colored home in south Minneapolis not far from the airport, is a bright blue sign. Its white bold type reads: "Would Jesus Discriminate?" It's the perfect lawn ornament for the 51-year-old ordained pastor who estimates he has married some 5,000 same sex couples in his 31 years as a minister.

People want to mark the special events in their lives, the pastor says. Marriage is no different than baptism, a 16th birthday, and graduation. Though not financially invested, Eknes-Tucker's Minneapolis church, All God's Children, is supportive of a controversial pending class-action lawsuit against the state of Minnesota, challenging the state's current ban on same-sex marriage.

"We will continue to be a witness to the fact that there are married people in Minnesota who are having their rights denied," he says.

At 18-years-old Eknes-Tucker, a tall lanky man, entered the ministry at a Methodist Church in Alabama. As he came to terms with his own sexuality, he started preaching for the more progressive Metropolitan Community Churches, a worldwide fellowship of Christians with a special outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

Since then Eknes-Tucker has preached throughout the southern U.S. He says Minnesota has been the most welcoming state for his unique congregation. While he worked in Dallas, the Klu Klux Klan would sit in the back pews, taunting churchgoers. During some wedding ceremonies families would rally around the couple in support, other times they were tainted by judgment and protests.

Though the pastor has seen thousands of emotional "I do" moments, including a hospital room ceremony where he helped grant a dying man's last wish, the one wedding Eknes-Tucker will never forgot is his own.

He says he never thought he would live to see a time when same sex marriage was recognized by law anywhere. So, in May of 2005, when Eknes-Tucker and his partner Bill, walked into a government center in Canada and were issued a marriage certificate, the preacher says he temporarily lost his southern charm and turned into a blubbering mess.
 
"It was just overwhelming to stand in front of an alter and commit yourself, and to have a government recognize that--even though it was the Canadian government, it was very powerful," he says.

Couples interested in learning more about the class action suit can visit Marry Me Minnesota's website, or contact Doug Benson at (763) 219-1206.


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