Appeal of Prop 8 – Remarks at pre-trial rally

The Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on December 6, 2010, on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-gender marriage in California.  Marriage Equality and California Faith for Equality organized an early-morning rally/vigil outside the courthouse.  (One highlight was a phone call from Jesse Jackson adding his support for repeal.)  Covenant Network Executive Director Pam Byers was one of the invited speakers.

Rally before Prop 8 Trial before Ninth Circuit Court
December 6, 2010

Good morning.  I’m Pam Byers, elder at Old First Presbyterian Church here in the City and Executive Director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, the largest national group working for full inclusion of GLBT Christians in leadership of our church.

The gay couples in my congregation contribute so much to our congregation, and to the community.  Their marriages in no way threaten my 40-year marriage to my husband; indeed, their commitment strengthens ours.  Two of these members chair our fellowship and outreach committee; four often provide worship leadership; one teaches Sunday school; two write new anthems for our choir;  two host wonderful fundraisers for many different community groups.

And one couple is raising an African-American brother and sister, adopted when they were four and five.  Imagine what options those youngsters had when their birth mother couldn’t care for them.  We joyfully baptized them and gladly surround that family with our love and support.  Of course those children need all the protection and stability that legal marriage for their fathers can provide.  How is any child’s interest served by denying these children the safety of knowing their dads are married?

My congregation and many, many of my clergy colleagues want the freedom to marry the couples we believe God has called together to make covenants of faithfulness to one another.  We would not think of requiring other congregations or religious leaders to perform marriages that offend their conscience.  We want the same freedom to follow our own conscience in carrying out the ministry we believe God has called us to do.

Overturning Prop 8 gives religious liberty to all congregations and clergy, rather than privileging one group over another.

And as a young college friend said to our recent national conference,
“Jesus had two dads, and he turned out all right!”


  1. Great and to the point words. Pam Byers is an example for all Christians. One can only pray that those whose hearts are full of hatred (and who, nonetheless, call themselves Christians) will learn by the example of the likes of Pam, and, by extension, the teachings of Jesus.

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