Why Won’t a Christian Retreat Center Let This Woman Marry a Man?


Planning your wedding when your faith rejects your identity

by Najva Sol, Brand Director

Photo from the personal collection of Staley

Meet Staley.

She’s a tall glamazon with signature silver hair, a gentle way of speaking, powerwatt smile, and personal style that is forever #outfitgoals. She’s an art director, a devout Christian, and a pillar of her community.

Photo from the personal collection of Staley

This is Staley and her partner Andrew, who she’s excited to share her life with.

Photo via Serra Retreat

And this is the Serra Retreat in Malibu, where Staley and Andrew dream of getting married. The website describes the space as a “Catholic retreat and conference center which provides the space, in a beautiful setting, for peace, serenity, and reflection.” When Staley visited the grounds as an invited speaker, she was attracted to both its beautiful setting and legacy. Her spirit had decided; this was the spot for her wedding.

She gathered her funds, started looking for vendors, and put on her art director hat to start planning her vision.

Except, as it turns out, her wedding location isn’t available for girls… like her.

 

The problem, according to Serra, is that Staley is transgender.

🦄💎🦄💎 #transisbeautiful #loveyourlife #typicalpose #whitehair #unicorn #dontworry #behappy #content

A post shared by Staley Jophiel Munroe (@silverwindrider) on

She’s been very public about the intersection of her trans identity and faith, explaining:

I often find myself on the fringe of two very different groups of people. One, the religious and spiritual, as I am a follower of Jesus and Christian. The other, the LGBTQ community, as a proud Transgender woman.

It has been a difficult journey to reconcile those two mutual identities, as both seem to constantly wage war on the other, yet each claiming to be fundamentally rooted in love. I’m grateful that through a great deal of prayer, introspection, time, study, and concentrated intentional relationships, I’ve come to a place of sincere peace about who I am, why I am on this earth, and how to daily live my life.

#FlashBackFriday Before ➡️ After Unhappy ➡️ Joyful Genderqueer ➡️ Woman Defensive ➡️ Transparent Confusion ➡️ Clarity Unsure ➡️ At Peace Suffering ➡️ Health 127 lbs ➡️ 165 lbs Denial ➡️ Acceptance Broken ➡️ Authentic Weak ➡️ Strong I'm here to share my story with anyone who'd like to learn. We all have #transitions in our lives, learning to accept ourselves in every phase, season, and skin. I want to challenge the many misconceptions around #Transgender #Women, and educate via simple example how intersectional we all are as #HumanBeings. The truth is who we are never actually changes, we just GROW into the best version of ourselves – our highest and our best – if we allow it. We have the choice to blossom through the challenges and pains of life, or become defeated and defined by them. I'm proud of who I am, of how God made me, bc my story was written in heaven long before I ever walked the Earth, and so was yours. All my love to you, wherever you are, who ever you are. Keep blossoming. 🌸💋💗 #Testimony #transisbeautiful #faith #hope #love #GodLovesYou #ChangeIsGood #BeAuthentic #Transparent #LifeIsTooShort #FindYourPeace #KnowThyself #WeAllTransition 📸 @kayleighkuhlman

A post shared by Staley Jophiel Munroe (@silverwindrider) on

She has served for an inspiration in her community.

When one message breaks your heart, builds you up, and humbles you all at once. You never really know how your struggles will bless someone else – just rest assured that your pain is *never* wasted. Someone is looking to you. Our choices to endure can inspire and help others in their hard times- our battles become our testimony. I only share this to remind my friends to KEEP GOING! Know your worth, and that you are LOVED! There is always a new day coming, always more love for you, always HOPE! God is real, God is love,and there is a plan for your life that is GOOD. Stay strong. Hold on to your faith. It does get better. 💗 #testimony #faith #hope #love #purpose #peace #prayer #teamwork #nopainnogain #beaninspiration #transgender #transformation #trusted #transisbeautiful #girlslikeus #bebrave

A post shared by Staley Jophiel Munroe (@silverwindrider) on

The irony is that Staley landed at the Serra Retreat because of her trans advocacy work. As she tells it:

I first discovered Serra Retreat at an “Oriented to Love” dialogue, where I was invited to speak. With a vision of “Unity that is deeper than agreement,” The Oriented to Love program seeks to “help Christ followers come together around the highly charged and challenging topic of sexual and gender diversity in the church.” Their mission is, “To build community in the church amidst theological diversity, through loving dialogue and mutual vulnerability.”

Naturally, I never questioned whether or not Serra would host an LGBTQ wedding, as every conversation on the matter relayed how progressive and open-minded the Franciscan Catholic perspective remains. Charity, the environment, and aiding the plights of the disenfranchised have always been at the forefront of their ministries.

In a political climate where trans people are fighting for their basic rights, it’s important to remember that finding love is even more precious. Says Staley:

Andrew was the first man I’d dated who earnestly pursued me without the standard, typical experience I’d come to know of men treating me as a fetish, dirty secret, or possession.

He and I share a faith in God, despite the nuanced differences in his Catholicism and my Protestantism, and together we’ve pursued relational health, honesty, and transparency. Our time together has empowered us to learn, challenge one another, and grow far beyond any initial differences. He remains my champion, sweetheart, and partner.

Thank you for choosing me, Andrew. 💗 #Love

A post shared by Staley Jophiel Munroe (@silverwindrider) on

Turns out it was Andrew who suspected she may need to “officially” ask the Serra retreat about hosting their wedding.

I was shocked to learn that Serra in fact does NOT participate in LGBTQ marriage ceremonies. The response read simply…

“Unfortunately this facility does not allow to have LGBT weddings just yet but hopeful that sometime in the future we will. We wish you the very best.”

Staley was crushed. She recounts, in tears, the many losses she’s experienced in her journey:

My mother does not support my marriage and will not attend. Neither will my sister or father. To lose them hurts enough without now having to lose my dream location for the same reasons.

Life has taught me many hard lessons, with this most recent event a sobering reminder that not everyone who hopes to love unconditionally feels they can do so AND reconcile their convictions. A part of me realizes that it’s best to “get in where we fit in,” while another grieves that of all places, we don’t “fit in” at Serra.

Angrily, I question why our money isn’t as good as anyone else’s, or how our love is “less sacred”… but then I recalled my own dilemmas when processing my faith and gender identity, and how the many moving parts can lead to unfortunate conclusions if uninformed. The email did feature a tone of sympathy, but the door remains closed.

I have since called multiple times, leaving voicemails with the retreat’s wedding coordinator, asking to plead my case, and be passed to whomever the decision makers are in hopes of changing their minds, or at least expressing my heart.

While the pain of rejection is real, Staley acknowledges:

All of this is a small reminder of the battles for acceptance many in the LGBTQ community continue to face every day in our efforts to exist publicly and thrive openly in our country, and the greater plight of the queer community around the world. Mine is one simple and comparatively minor rejection story out of millions, though all share the fact that we are not yet truly equal.

In a world where real love is SO HARD for anyone to find, that the church of all places is all too often one of the most damaging environments for those seeking complete acceptance. Regardless, I refuse to give up on my faith, and I will not blame Jesus for the hurt caused by some of his people.

Religious groups continue to fund and fuel most oppressive political legislation threatening human rights, so they are where our greatest work of bridge-building through shared human experiences and relational equity must begin. The good news is that many in these groups are not trying to be malicious. They’re our brothers and sisters who simply need informed and enlightened. It takes time and a great deal of grace, but destructive paradigms can be shifted when real truth is spoken in love.

My special guy… Who doesn't like posing for selfies much. 🙄🤓😂 #boyfriend #babe #transisbeautiful

A post shared by Staley Jophiel Munroe (@silverwindrider) on

Staley is hoping Serra Retreat will stand behind the Christian tenets they seemed to believe in, and change their stance on LGBTQ weddings. She acknowledges that simply being able to marry there as a passing trans woman isn’t enough. In a comment on her Instagram, Staley asserts, “I am Transgender. I am the T. If any of my LGBQ friends would not be welcomed to be married there, then I don’t belong there either.”

And while Staley and Andrew are grateful for the support of friends and family (both chosen and natural), as of this article, Staley is still looking for a seaside Christian California venue to host her wedding, one that genuinely embraces ALL love.

Najva Sol

Najva Sol is a queer Iranian-American writer, photographer, branding consultant, artist, and ex-poet.  She’s the token staff Slytherin and—while formally based in Brooklyn—tends to travel as much as possible. Storytelling is her life, but making chicken broth is a close second.
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  • Sarah

    this was a well-written surprise. the title made me do an eye roll like “of course a Christian retreat won’t let you have a super #pride wedding, duh”. reading it made me realize gender and religious identity can be totally intertwined and I made some pretty big assumptions of both groups.

    • Also, that’s not true. I grew up in the Christian church that would OF COURSE let anyone have the most super pride wedding in the world, because that is OF COURSE an extension of our faith and exactly what Jesus taught. I now am in a part of the Jewish faith that feels exactly the same way, but all of my family goes to churches that host tons of gay marriages, and have gay clergy. So please never think that A) All kinds of Christians are against gay rights/ not progressive, B) That being homophobic and Christian is remotely ok. Jesus is pretty damn clear on the subject, we eat with the oppressed and the cast out by society, we love everyone like Jesus loved us. Full stop.

      • idkmybffjill

        I agree on what Jesus said, but I think your church was definitely a rarity. This is actually why I gave up my Christian faith.

        ETA: Maybe not rare in the San Francisco area…. but in all of the places I lived this is not a thing. Even in the uber liberal churches (Texas, Oklahoma City… maybe Chicago but I lost my faith before I moved here).

        • Amy March

          The Episcopalian Church isn’t rare! (Idk if that’s Meg’s faith but it’s huge and also welcomes gay marriage.)

          • idkmybffjill

            Do they unilaterally allow gay marriage? If so that’s fantastic and perhaps I should reconsider my gut check there!

          • Amy March
          • idkmybffjill

            That explains my misinformation. I stopped practicing my faith about 5 years ago. Thanks for clarifying for me and others reading.

          • Sarah

            didn’t they have some kind of split in early 2000s about gay bishops?

          • Angela’s Back

            IIRC it was that when the Episcopal Church elected a gay bishop in the early 2000s, it was parts of the larger Anglican Communion that were very not okay with it. The Anglican church is much more conservative in Africa, for example.

            ETA: there are definitely more conservative individual Episcopal congregations in the US and there may even be a more conservative conference/offshoot here as a result, I’m not sure, but big picture the Episcopalians are pretty cool.

          • Emily

            Presbyterian (USA) too!

          • Lexipedia

            Officially? I got the booklet from the church our officiant usually works in (complicated, close friend of FI’s family and his childhood pastor, but is performing a secular venue and less religious ceremony for us because friendsies) and it had some pretty heteronormative language and readings. If it’s USA policy that makes me feel great.

          • Amy March

            Yep! Again, a recent change so they may not have integrated it into all the materials yet.

          • Lexipedia

            Great! I know our officiant is socially progressive – super supportive of LGBT members we know and their inclusion, worked with doctors that performed abortions in the 90s on funding family planning projects in a pretty conservative state, etc. so I was surprised when the wedding booklet I downloaded had readings that I found really offensive in it.

          • Emily

            Officially, I guess they don’t have a stance (http://www.hrc.org/resources/stances-of-faiths-on-lgbt-issues-presbyterian-church-usa )but I do know that they allow for the ordination of ministers from the LGBTQ community. Anecdotally the Presbytarian church I grew up in and the one I occasionally attend as an adult are very inclusive and fight for equality in a number of ways.

          • Eh

            In Canada, The United Church of Canada (the largest Protestant denomination in Canada), Anglican church, Lutheran church, Presbyterian church…

        • E.

          United Church of Christ sued North Carolina because the ban on gay marriage violated their freedom of religion

        • rebecca

          College towns pretty often have churches that allow gay marriage these days (post obergefell v. hodges), even in pretty rural places. Not Catholic ones though, because even progressive communities run up against the hard wall of the Vatican :(

      • Sarah

        I know that’s not true…hence the realization I made big assumptions (false ones)

      • idkmybffjill

        I’m not sure what happened to your reply but here was my response:

        Thanks – as I edited to add it’s clearly not rare. This is very personal for me. I grew up in churches and parochial schools and in my lived experience it was exceedingly rare. I had friends who attempted to take their lives it was so exceedingly rare in my lived experience. Even when they were surrounded by leaders who “welcomed all gods children” but still shamed them for who they were and loved.

        I understand the strength of your response because I used to frequently lose my mind fighting with people on the issue of whether or not Jesus condemned homosexuality –
        on which I absolutely agree he definitely did not. You probably didn’t see my edits so that’s totally okay – I didn’t mean to offend your former faith (current? sorry trying to correctly describe it as I know you converted so if it is still your faith then that too).

        So – my apologies for being incorrect there. Still surrounded by christian’s in my own acquaintance who will profess to love homosexuals but believe they are sinners in their heart of hearts. I eventually felt that clearly the verses they were using to attack homosexuality were present in the bible (I didn’t bring receipts but I believe mostly books written by Paul), so I could no longer believe in that bible. (My former argument was that the bible was a collection of letters and not god breathed etc etc… but at some point it just seemed as if I was justifying it to myself).

        Anyway – this is personal to me. So I apologize for offending you. I just wanted it to be clear that I’m coming at this as a person who once was deeply faithful but felt so completely alienated by all churches and churchgoers I’d ever experienced that I’d lost my faith (I now consider myself agnostic). Not a person with no skin in the game.

        • Totally get it! It’s personal for me too. I grew up in a conservative area, and a lot of my friends attempted suicide as well. I’m just also always trying to make sure everyone knows that there is a LOT of Christianity that is doing the right thing on this, and there is a place for people.

          And yes, I converted. But my family is all still religious and active in progressive politics in the church. So I speak two faith languages on this one.

          • Lexipedia

            Meg – I know this is a very complex and personal topic, and so I wouldn’t want you to share anything that you’re not comfortable with, but are there any existing APW posts where you discuss your decision to convert? I’m always really interested about how people who are active in one faith tradition decide to convert to another (vs. people who were born or raised in a faith that they are kind of meh or non-practicing in). Also, friends who have converted to Judaism have described what an involved and active process it is – compared to other denominations where you can sort of “get saved,” or moving between denominations in a broader overarching faith. If you’ve already written something about this I’d love a link (I can’t find it, though my Google skills aren’t necessary stellar).

      • Arcania

        #notallreligions #allreligionsmatter lol

  • Sarah

    I feel for them- it sounds like she has been through a lot. And not getting your dream venue can be disapointing.

    But the Catholic church is pretty clear on its views of LGBTQ weddings, and they have the right to set the requirements for their facilities. While I am 100% for legal gay marriage and protections for LGBTQ folks, but there is definitely different ways to understand the bible on this issue. Spiritually I dont know what the right answer is.

    I realize that won’t be a popular opinion on this site. I hope they are able to find somewhere to have a lovely wedding.

    • Amy March

      At no point did Najva or Staley argue that the Catholic Church does not have a “right” to discriminate. They simply argue that it is wrong to do so.

      • Correct. People have rights to do all sorts of things, and I’ll go to the mat for say, the KKK to have the right to free speech. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think what they’re saying is immoral.

        This retreat has the right to do whatever they want. What they’re doing is still morally wrong, and still against the teachings of Jesus (which they pretty clearly know, since they asked Staley to speak on exactly this subject. But more to the point, as laid out very clearly here, their stance hurts good people. Good people of faith, even.

      • toomanybooks

        Yeah. Like… they have the right. It’s the official stance of the church. But it sucks. And it would be great if the church could come to terms with this.

        • Having the right, and being in the right are very different things. And we can acknowledge you have the right to do something (and even fight for your legal right), while still fighting you on what you’re doing for moral reasons.

    • Bubbles

      I think it’s pretty fucked that she’s good enough to give a talk there, but not good enough to get married there.

      • idkmybffjill

        Yeah this. I think if that hadn’t been the background I’d be like… well I’m not surprised – churches aren’t known for being open to this. But this is very different.

        • Amy March

          And it’s not actually in a physical church building by the sound of it. She didn’t blithely roll up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral assuming everything would be fine.

          • idkmybffjill

            Ha! Exactly this.

        • Sarah E

          And the Franciscans are pretty progressive, relative to most Catholic groups. One of their centers would certainly be a reasonable choice to start the query about hosting an LGBTQ wedding, speaking engagement aside. The fact that they hosted a program about faith and LGBTQ identities (and a sincere one, at that) would absolutely lead me to think they’d be a decent ally.

      • Emily

        THIS! I would be furious if I was good enough to be a speaker on love of all things–but then told that my love does not actually count. UGH

      • Amandalikeshummus

        This is where the Catholic church’s progressive wing comes up against a hard wall. On the one hand I respect them trying (Fr. Martin is a good example of this) and hope they keep pushing intellectually because the wall’s gonna have to break eventually. But when you say, “We want to reach out to you and accept you, but we won’t accept anything about your actual life” it just doesn’t work.

        I vacillate between being progressive Catholic and agnostic, and still love my Catholic identity through the organization’s faults, and this is one of those things where I’m like, listen Church, you’re wrong.

      • Jessica

        For what it’s worth, it sounds like the Oriented to Love conference is a yearly event organized /sponsored by an evangelical (Protestant) group, and hosted by various facilities (http://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/oriented-to-love/). It’s unclear to me how much the Serra Center collaborated with them in the Oriented to Love program, or if they were even aware that Staley had been a speaker.

    • Well, it’s not a popular opinion on our staff either, and this was edited by a progressive Catholic, and a progressive ex-mainline Protestant, now progressive Jew.

      First, nobody is debating the legality. Of course they legally CAN do this. That said, it doesn’t make it right, nor does it make it in line with Jesus’s VERY clear teachings on the subject.

      So sure, every private group can legally do what they want. That doesn’t make it moral, or right.

    • toomanybooks

      I don’t know about it not being a popular opinion… I mean, it’s not like you’re saying “well, the Bible absolutely says anyone in the LGBT community is a sinner who can’t get married so byeeeee,” at which point, yeah, I’d take issue.

      But it’s true that Catholic churches/other types of venues (along with some other branches of religion) do not allow queer couples to get married. I straight up had to knock some pretty cool venues out of the running once I found out they were Catholic-affiliated, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get married there. As I’ve talked about before on APW, I am Greek Orthodox (raised, I’m not like, Extremely Pious but still consider myself religious/Christian/etc) and they don’t allow same-sex marriage, which I honestly didn’t know before my wedding because that was something that had never been talked about at church and they don’t have the same, ah, exposure that the Catholic Church does. I did email a church to make sure, but beyond that I reeeeally didn’t want to do anything else. Like, it’s so recent that I even got the right to legally get married, and I would have been terrified of making any noise about getting married in my church when it wasn’t allowed. I also wouldn’t have ever expected to change anything. Of course, I guess this is how change happens… over time after lots of fighting for change. But I don’t know how it works in religion, especially with ones as old as these. I feel that often the “solution” is to find another religion, but that’s absolutely not an option for some people, who are deeply Catholic (or other branch) and couldn’t imagine converting.

      There are still absolutely plenty of churches that are totally okay with gay marriage, as others have pointed out in the replies to this comment. And on a personal level, I’d like to highly recommend the animated documentary Fish out of Water for anyone having a discussion of Biblical interpretations about gay people. It goes through each passage that is used against gays and explains why it does not actually mean that (or, put in a more relaxed way, why it doesn’t have to be interpreted that way). It’s a really simple, easy to watch/follow guide and really helpful for discussing gayness and religion. (Bonus pro-tip for right now: Jesus never said anything about gay people.)

      • And we can TOTALLY fight within the church. I feel super strongly on this, since I’ve been going to (and arguing at) meetings at churches on gay rights since at least 1992. (“Let the 12 year old stand up and tell the adults why they’re wrong based on religious teachings” is good entertainment for everyone, I think? I remember seeing a LOT of embarrassed adult faces when I finished talking, every time.) But we’ve made SO MUCH progress in the past 25 years. We’ve even started to see tiny signs of progress in places you wouldn’t expect lately, like among the Franciscans and in some Evangelical Churches. So, onwards, right? With breaks for people that get tired, or who just can’t at that moment. Breaks and prayer and good snacks.

        • Amandalikeshummus

          My view on fighting within the church is that if no one like me stays, it will just get more and more conservative. I get why people are leaving and respect their reasons. (I’m also paid to be there every week, so there’s that; but I could get a music job at another kind of church and don’t).

          That being said, sometimes my version of fighting from within is to say, “No, I’m not participating in THAT.” Catholic weddings have a few problematic elements in general and for me personally. It really hurts that I can’t get married in my church and also have all my friends’ relationships be respected at my wedding; but I can’t. I’d love to say that if I didn’t have close queer friends that I’d feel as strongly (this is unknowable), but when I think about getting married in front of very specific people, I know just can’t do it the Catholic way.

          I hope it makes a difference. I know several members of my congregation who see the world the same as me, and Jesus in this year’s passion play was played by a woman. So that’s tiny progress on the sexism front.

    • Sarah

      Welp… I was right. Not popular. I was reading an article yesterday about how the left has it’s own version of “purity culture,” that we demand people be exactly like us in our liberal ideas, and can’t accept someone who differs from us on the margins.

      The bible does include several versus against homosexuality and transgenderism (I don’t know if that is the correct noun form or not, so apologies if it’s wrong). It also includes other versus that put that in a historical context- that could lead the reader to believe that homosexuality and trangenderism is fine by God. No one can know the truth for 100% certainty.

      You are standing ready purge someone who is 90% of the way with you. Someone who supports legal protections for LGBTQ folks, who supports legal LGBTQ marriage, who even attends a Methodist church that performs gay marriage against official church doctrine. I however, don’t think it is my place to call out a different faith on their own church dogma which affects only their members. I don’t do it to Muslims, Jews, Pagans, or any other group, why would I do it to Catholics.

      If you can’t accept that as an equally valid, but different, opinion than you need to ask yourself how tolerant you really are.

      • Anna

        I think it’s overreading the responses you got by a bit to say that the APW community is “standing ready to purge” you – yes, some commenters were pretty unambiguous about the “excluding someone from practicing their religion on the basis of their gender or sexuality is morally wrong” bit, but the responses were generally polite and genuinely engaging with your comment, not trying to “purge” your position.

        As far as your last few lines there: “church dogma which affects only their members” can still have an enormous negative effect on people in marginalized groups (LGBTQ people are also members of churches and other religious organizations, and routinely harmed by their policies, so I’m not super comforted by the “affects only their members” part). If your goal is equality (in terms of human rights, quality of life, access to opportunities, however you think about it) for all people regardless of gender and sexuality, then yes, I think it absolutely can be your place to call out any organization that is excluding LGBTQ people from participating in their faith the same way a straight cis member would be allowed to. I don’t think it’s intolerant to point out that there’s a discrepancy in saying “well, I’ll fight for equality in my own faith because I believe LGBTQ members of my faith deserve it, but LGBTQ members of other religions get what they get, I’m staying out of it.”

        ETA: Of course, combating discrimination that occurs inside other faiths can be tricky to do in a respectful way (French hijab bans come to mind…), but standing with members of the religion in question who are experiencing discrimination seems like an appropriate way to do so.

        • Sarah E

          A huge problem also comes up in regards to children being raised in the faith. Sure, adults can (hopefully) choose which religion to practice, but children aren’t really granted that choice, nor do they have the developmental capacity to make that choice for quite some time. In the meantime, they can absorb some really nasty lingering rhetoric about the identities they may very well have.

      • AmandaBee

        People are disagreeing with you. That does not mean they have rejected you, or that they are attacking or “purging” you. It just means that they’ve heard your opinion, and they are expressing the fact that they still don’t agree. Being able to disagree respectfully is a normal and essential part of having a healthy debate.

        Also, people can accept your right to have an opinion, and still share that they think your opinion is flawed. Everyone has the right to an opinion, but not all opinions are equally valid just by virtue of being opinions. We can critique each other’s opinions, so long as that doesn’t devolve into personal attacks.

        I know it stings when lots of people disagree a perspective you’ve shared, especially when they flat-out reject your opinion. I’ve experienced that myself, both on these boards and elsewhere. But it doesn’t mean that others aren’t tolerant.

        I appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to share your thoughts, since I do think you share a good point to consider. And I hope you can take some time to consider the counter-points that others have shared with you because many of them raise important points that might help complicate your perspectives on this.

      • Sarah

        The moderators seem to have very little to say about the people using R rated language in response to my post, but quite a lot to say about my opinion.

        While I’ve enjoyed the content of the posts on this site, it’s clear that alternative viewpoints, respectfully given, are not welcome or accepted here. Thus, I am removing myself.

        Enjoy your echo chamber.

        • Amy March

          Why would they? Fuck isn’t a banned word on here. Your post wasn’t removed. You got to say what you wanted to say, which you did knowing it would be unwelcome. Cry me a river with your fake concern about gasp horror R rated language.

      • Hi! Disagreeing isn’t purging. Also, sometimes it’s a little hard to say to someone’s face that you don’t support some aspect of someone’s core identity but want them not to take it personally. Alternative opinions we make space for are things like “actually, avocados are gross” not “well, maybe women are dumber and shouldn’t be allowed jobs.” I wouldn’t consider that an “equally valid” viewpoint, no. I will let you speak it, but I won’t validate it.

        Like, I mean, thanks so much for not being a bigot and I’ll fight for your rights, but also religions evolve and grow. Interpretations evolve and grow. And this post was from the point of view of someone inside a religious group, who is hurting.

        All this to say, YES totally some people are going to fight REALLY HARD to make sure old texts are interpreted in ways that continue to alienate marginalized people, but maybe those factions should stop pretending to be based on love and tolerance and acceptance? Maybe they shouldn’t bother being nice to your face if they don’t actually support you? Serra retreat has shown it’s true colors, to someone who embodies the tenants of love your neighbor, and it’s a damn heartbreaking shame.

        If you feel this is an echo chamber, then you aren’t paying attention to the vastly different viewpoints in this comment section alone. Sorry we didn’t applaud your bravery for saying maybe the catholics SHOULD preserve the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, because guess what? They pay $$$$$ to lobby against my actual rights every day.

        Bye!

  • Amy March

    I just want to say thank you for fighting. I disagree with my own church on this issue, and I pray that the continued fight for love will win. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5247d6d5c93b6da516d2cb241dadaca02f57381da34e1809809106d2943092bd.jpg

    • Colleen

      If anyone else who stutters is sick of this and similar memes but feels shitty complaining about them because the actual message is decent and there’s more important things to deal with, I’m here for you.

      Signed,

      Your sometimes friendly neighborhood intersectional feminist with a speech dysfluency (because I stutter when saying “stutter” – hilarious, right?)

      • Amy March

        I’m so sorry, I’ve never considered this. Thank you for pointing it out to me and I’m sorry I hurt you.

        [for anyone catching up, I had posted a meme about Christ asking his followers if he had stuttered when telling them to love everyone. I deleted it because it was hurtful but dont want to hide that it was there.]

        • Colleen

          Thanks for understanding. I meant it when I said there’s more important things to be upset about and that message is a good one. As an agnostic pansexual person, I need all the Christians on my side that I can get.

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  • jem

    ❤️

  • Transnonymous

    I don’t have anything meaningful to add, but my heart goes out to Staley. Keep fighting and being your wonderful self.

  • Jane

    This is heartbreaking because it looks like Serra Center is so close to being inclusive but won’t take the final step. I have faith that they’ll get there eventually, but I am so sorry it won’t be in time for Staley to celebrate there.
    Good luck, Staley! I hope you find another beautiful location to host your wedding!

    • sofar

      My mom’s church (which JUST started allowing same-sex marriages) was the same way. And it was so odd to me to hear her and the church’s leadership express confusion as to why The Youngs were pushing for them to perform ceremonies for gay couples and transgender people. Like, they’d argue that they were so “diverse” already and had a “black people” and “people from Asia” and “services in Spanish,” and wasn’t that enough for those gosh dang millennials?

      Anyway, after much back and forth they finally decided for marriage equality. Which is awesome, but my reaction is still, “How the heck did it take you years to work through this? Isn’t it obvious that this was the right thing to do?”

      • Jane

        I wish it would be faster too! But good for you guys for getting them to change!

  • Arie

    Quick roll-call of all the Catholics who did the now-familiar sigh as soon as you realized it was a Catholic facility? Hi, friends.

    I feel this one pretty hard; the church doesn’t have a place for me anymore either, and I wasn’t able to get married in the church where I grew up. It’s sad, and frankly stupid, but I never feel like I’m fighting this fight alone. Here’s hoping the author doesn’t either.

    • You’re for SURE not fighting the fight alone!! I’m not/ never have been Catholic, but Kate, one of the editors on this piece is a practicing progressive Catholic fighting the good fight, and she’s far from the only one I know. Extra blessings for ALL of you guys.

      • Amy March

        and sometimes the fight just looks really different in a Church setting

        Several years ago I attended Easter services in a United Methodist Church in DC with a significant number of gay members. Part of the service asked us to turn and share something with our neighbor. The man behind me said to his neighbor that he’d been working hard before the annual conference calling delegates about gay marriage (the inclusion of gay people in the church has been and continues to be a hot button issue). And his neighbor said are you asking them to vote with us, how many votes do you have, what’s the roll call looking like? And the man responded with “this isn’t the Hill- we are asking them to join us in thoughtful prayer on the issue.”

        • Lexipedia

          Foundry? I love it there. Neither my FI and I are Methodist, but for we’ve gone for Easter and Advent. They also had services at noon on election day, which we dropped in on, and there was a whole contingent of ladies in pantsuits high-fiving each other. It felt like the kind of place where we could belong, and was definitely very “Washington”.

          • Amy March

            Yep!!

    • InTheBurbs

      I did the sigh…and then held out hope that the powers that be in the organization would re-consider.

    • Jane

      I feel this one pretty hard too. I’m non-religious now, but at the height of my Catholicism I went to a retreat at Serra Retreat and it’s just gorgeous and peaceful and spiritual. I can really identify with feeling crushed about not getting to have your wedding there. It’s so stupid and wrong!!

      I wish that these Franciscans and others would just start defying their higher-ups (it’s not just the Vatican – e.g. the people running the Serra Retreat are under Franciscan Friars of Santa Barbara, who are under?!). Catholics and other Christians have defied authority over and over again in the past. That’s one of the ways changes come to the church.

      I know, I know. It’s a lot to ask. But this kind of thing happens. If I were still religious, I’d pray for them.

    • Laura

      It often feels naive of me, but I am a firm believer that the only way to change problematic institutions is by fighting the good fight from within the institution. That is one of several reasons that I have not left the Catholic faith over this issue (not taking exception with anyone else’s choice to do so, obvi). If anyone is looking to read more about the issue, Fr. James Martin just wrote a book called “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”

      On the one hand, it’s ridiculous that it’s taking so long for this dialogue to progress. On the other hand, only a few years ago, a Catholic priest writing a book about this topic would be highly unlikely to get the “imprimi potest” (“it can be printed”) from his superiors. So I guess it’s just another step in fighting the good fight.

  • Just popping in to say, if anyone has any seaside Christian southern cali wedding recommendations… I’m sure Staley would be stoked <3

    • Mae

      We mostly looked at non-religious venues so I only have one recommendation — Wayfarers Chapel. There’s a photo on their site of what looks to be a lesbian wedding so I would guess that LGBTQ weddings are welcomed. There’s no language on their site to suggest otherwise. http://www.wayfarerschapel.org/gallery/#weddings

      • Hannah

        I was going to suggest the Wayfarers Chapel, too! My lady and I are nonbelievers who live outside California, but if those things weren’t true, we’d get married there in a heartbeat. It is one of the loveliest, most serene settings I can imagine for the start of one’s marriage. And a search for “Wayfarers Chapel same-sex wedding” brings us lots of hits, so it seems like a safe bet!

  • Liz

    You’re beautiful, Staley. Praying for you and Andrew.

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  • Holly

    My heart goes out to Staley. When my wife and I were looking to get (illegally) married 5 years ago, our “open and affirming” church still wasn’t allowing same sex couples to get married in the sanctuary. We were pretty new members and were told that a gay couple was going through the process of changing the rules so they could be married there, and they would have dibs (understandably so, since they’d already been in discussions about it for YEARS.) We were legit shocked, because the church as a whole had been so welcoming and theologically progressive, and that’s what drew us there. We opted to get married elsewhere instead of waiting, and I don’t have any regrets about it but… the memory still stings. They did come around and that couple (now friends) did get their church wedding. I hope Staley gets her church wedding, too. I was so encouraged by her gracious response to injustice. No matter what the outcome, she’s bearing a beautiful witness. 👏 Thanks for covering this story, APW!

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve thinking about this for a couple of days, wondering if I should comment or not my unpopular opinion. I decided that I should do it briefly. This is for xxx
    I’ve been thinking how Christianity and LGBTQ+ can compromise and agree with each other for 10 years now. It’s been an intense nonstop search, with prayer, research and many many conversations. And I’ve concluded that won’t happen, it can’t. The Bible is very clear. It’s not that I am not “enlightened” or “informed”, I’ve just came to a very different conclusion. Either you or myself are wrong (or maybe both of us).
    But please don’t think I don’t love you. I do. I do even if I don’t agree with you. I do love you and that means I have to tell you the truth, I am deeply sorry if that hurts you. This is not what people want to hear and, oh how I wish to believe in what you do, it would be so, so much easier.
    I am praying for you, praying that both you and your fiancé can show God’s infinite grace and love far greater than anything in this world.

    • Amy March

      It’s an interesting kind of love that requires affirmatively reaching out to hurt a stranger.

      There’s no need for a compromise or a struggle. Love everyone as much as you can especially those who society most reviles, leave judging to God.