For leaders in governments and in churches, marriage equality is the most contentious civil-rights dispute in the 21st century. During an era where nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, same-gender couples now have the federal civil right to marry, too. At a time when 62 percent of Americans approve of same-gender marriage, according to June 2017 Pew Research, churches are having to come to terms with whether to recognize and affirm these faithful partnerships as sacred covenants.
Attorneys Harbison and Cramer, faithful and active members of a United Methodist congregation, brought one of the cases to the US Supreme Court, which resulted in the 2015 landmark decision that permits persons of the same gender to marry. They bring a unique legal and cultural perspective to the controversy.
For the three couples Harbison and Cramer represented, marriage is not an "issue" to be resolved. Marriage is rather a sign for these couples of their faithful promise to love each other until they depart this life. "Each couple married for several reasons, including their commitment to love and support one another, to demonstrate their mutual commitment to their family, friends, and colleagues, and to show others that they should be treated as a family. They also married to make a legally binding mutual commitment, to join their resources together in a legal unit, and to be treated by others as a legal family unit, rather than as legally unrelated individuals. Finally, each couple married so that they could access the legal responsibilities of marriage to protect themselves and their families, just as heterosexual couples do." Aleta A. Trauger, Federal Judge
With a first-hand account of the respectful courtroom drama concerning marriage in American communities and states, Harbison and Cramer show why states care about marriage, why the church got involved in marriage more than a thousand years after Jesus's earthly ministry, and how the church and the state function in partnership to foster the purposes and social benefits of marriage.