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Church will offer wedding ceremonies to gay couples

The Rev. Kit Ketcham outside the new Unitarian Universalist Congregation church in Freeland: “It’s really important to take a stand on issues of value.”  - Roy Jacobson / The Record
The Rev. Kit Ketcham outside the new Unitarian Universalist Congregation church in Freeland: “It’s really important to take a stand on issues of value.”
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island is offering the gift of moral equality to local gay and lesbian couples.

It’s making available the use of its brand new church in Freeland and the assistance of its minister, the Rev. Kit Ketcham, in creating personalized ceremonies for the celebration of the “marriage of the heart.”

In other words, the church is offering wedding ceremonies to gay and lesbian couples, at no charge.

“I don’t know what the reaction will be,” Ketcham said Thursday. “But we felt this was a good gesture to make, even if nobody takes us up on it.

“It’s really important to take a stand on issues of value.”

Ketcham said the offer is in response to the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California and similar measures around the nation which prohibit the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“It’s really an important issue for me,” she said. “I have a lot of gay and lesbian friends, and I want them to have the same rights as I do. I can get married and they can’t. That’s not right.”

Ketcham said she will meet with willing couples, make sure they understand all their legal rights, then work with them to design a custom ceremony to renew their commitment to each other.

“Then we’ll set a date and do it,” she said.

Washington state doesn’t recognize gay and lesbian marriages, but has enacted measures which protect and legitimize same-sex relationships in domestic partnerships.

Ketcham said marriage is a civil rights issue.

“We believe that someday everyone will have the same right to all of marriage’s protections, legally and culturally,” Ketcham said.

“We Unitarians advocate for marriage equality as a civil right for all couples,” she said.

Ketcham said she doesn’t know how many gays and lesbians live on the island, “but I’ve heard it said that it’s a very safe place for same-sex couples.”

“I’m astounded by the fact that I know people who have been together for more than 40 years, and have never been able to make it legal,” she said.

“Some people tend to think of the sexual aspect of it, not the love aspect,” Ketcham continued. “I’ve known people in long-lasting same-sex relationships that have everything heterosexual couples have, sometimes more.”

Ketcham has been pastor of Unitarian Universalist Congregation for about six years. Before that, she had a congregation in Oregon, and at one time was a school counselor in Colorado.

There, she worked with teenagers, some of whom committed suicide, or threatened to, because they were gay.

Her father was a preacher, and she grew up Baptist. She said she had little clue about homosexuality until an old college friend told her long after graduation that she was a lesbian.

“She was afraid to tell me before,” Ketcham said. “She was afraid I wouldn’t like her anymore. I’ve been on a crusade since that time.”

Ketcham stressed that her congregation isn’t on a one-issue bandwagon. It has pushed for veterans’ rights, worked to benefit Good Cheer Food Bank and even mounted public protests over the issue of torture.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire,” she said.

As for the same-sex issue, she’s reminded of a young girl she once counseled who was upset because she thought she might be gay.

“I told her it’s OK if you love somebody of the same gender,” Ketcham said. “We need more love in the world, not less.”

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