Michael Hope: South Dakota Should Accept Marriage Equality

Following the declaration that marriage is a Constitutional right for homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, Bob Ellis declares that America is drowning in a “tide of evil” unleashed by “black-robed tyrants.” Gordon Howie exhorts despairing Christians to keep fighting “wickedness.” Pat Powers, who hasn’t said anything original or thoughtful on the Supreme Court’s ruling, clips an AP article and says polygamists are coming. A clerk at the Minnehaha County Courthouse blurts on office hours that she might as well marry her dog (and then has the gall to tell her boss Treasurer Pam Nelson that she wasn’t talking about the Obergefell v. Hodges but just saying how much she loves her dog).

My Madison friend Michael Hope gets out his Bible and tells his fellow believers to make like Jesus and chill out:

The point is, Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality at all. Love one another. That is what Jesus told us. Most reasonable Christians know this already.

The reason for this letter is to celebrate the courage of the people that fought for these rights and to remind people of our state’s leaders’ perspective on these and other issues. According to the Supreme Court, South Dakota’s stated position on these two issues is wrong and has now been corrected on a federal level [Michael Hope, letter to the editor, Madison Daily Leader, 2015.06.30].

Hope says the exclusivist freak-out of folks like Ellis and Howie and that dog-loving clerk hurts South Dakota’s interests:

South Dakotans by nature are a reserved group, and speaking out can be a challenge. There are MANY in this state that feel like I do, and many more that have moved away so they could live in a more accepting climate. You shouldn’t have to move out of our state to be free, valued and equal. Our state needs diversity, so just chasing out or oppressing others is not conducive to the long-term health of our communities [Hope, 2015.06.30].

Hope challenges us to turn off the bullies and turn on liberty and justice for all Americans:

I challenge people that agree with these more compassionate positions to please find the courage in your heart to work past the fear and speak out for justice. I also thank those who do speak out for these principles. These issues are not about political parties; they are about the fundamentals of core American values. Too many have fought for our right to live free to have it oppressed by the hurtful rhetoric of a very vocal, short-sided, bullying few.

As we continue to grow as a state and country, I pray we are mindful of the needs of all and truly treat others as we would like to be treated.

God bless our state, our country and ALL who live here. Congratulations to those affected by these rulings for your newfound liberty and justice. May we all find the liberty and justice we crave and deserve [Hope, 2015.06.30].

It does me good to hear other South Dakotans speaking like that in the face of the angry, fearful rhetoric from those who would undermine the Court and the Constitution. It does me good to hear South Dakota Christians capable of recognizing that America is not the exclusivist theocracy that some angry, power-hungry pastors think it was and want it to be:

GJELTEN: In fact, the Supreme Court said ministers who do not approve of same-sex marriages can’t be forced to perform them. The court decision applies only to government functions, not religious ceremonies. But many of those who are now criticizing the court decision don’t recognize that distinction.

DAVID LANE: I don’t think there’s any such thing as a separation of church and state.

GJELTEN: David Lane is the founder of the American Renewal Project now bringing conservative pastors together into a political movement.

LANE: This was not established as a secular nation, and anybody that says that it is, they’re not reading American history. This was established by Christians for the advancement of the Christian faith. My goal is to return – to restore a biblically based culture and a Judeo-Christian heritage.

GJELTEN: Lane made that comment at a political training session for pastors held earlier this month in South Carolina. Reached today, Lane predicted that Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage will, if anything, strengthened his renewal movement.

LANE: I think that this outrageous decision that was made last week just puts and engine on what we’re doing because I think that Christians in America are going to return to the public square with our values. Somebody’s values are going to reign supreme – our values or militant homosexual’s values [Tom Gjelten, “Conservative Pastors Deliver Sharp Criticism of Same-Sex Marriage,” NPR: All Things Considered, 2015.06.29].

Michael Hope’s God doesn’t need to clutch the sceptre of secular power to keep his faith. If I had to hang around a God, Hope’s God would be my kind of God. It’s also the God of the Constitution, which says, Believe what you will, but in the eyes of the state, all citizens deserve equal rights.

Related: The Episcopal Church voted yesterday at its General Convention in Salt Lake City (?!?) to allow its pastors to conduct same-sex marriages. The convention also voted to allow its pastors to decline to perform such ceremonies and to allow bishops to refuse to allow such ceremonies in their diocese. See? The Episcopalians understand that the Supreme Court is not taking away their freedom of religion.

15 Responses to Michael Hope: South Dakota Should Accept Marriage Equality

  1. larry kurtz

    Powers would really freak if a woman married two or three men, init?

  2. bearcreekbat

    I wish someone could explain to me why folks like Ellis and Howie are so obsessed with this one alleged sin, while simply ignoring all the other ways people, including Ellis and Howie, commit sins according to Leviticus et al. Why aren’t they up in arms, for example, at the almost constant sinning by stores that sell mixed fabric clothes or foods that the Bible call abominations? Why are they so narrowly focused on sexual sins? Is it a matter of projection for them?

  3. Barry Smith

    Maybe South Dakotans should accept this but this ruling doesn’t require anyone to accept anything. There are folks who have religious beliefs that preclude them from accepting same sex marriage. They may never accept it but maybe with time they will be able to tolerate it. The breaking of the majority of the 10 commandments is tolerated in society with no Government ramifications but those of the Christian faith don’t view the breaking of these commandments as acceptable and nor are they required to.
    This ruling comes in logical progression in a society that has struggled to remove obstructions from the path of the individual in their pursuit of happiness. Removing these obstructions will be unacceptable to some. One hundred years ago an obstruction was removed that gave women the right to vote and many did not accept that at the time. Below are some quotes from some Nebraska Pastors at that time ( I will put a link below)

    Adolf Hult, an early 20th century Lutheran pastor claimed that “Suffragism [is] Gripped by Feminism.” He said that the suffrage movement had been taken over by “lust and immorality.” He feared that the fall of women would lead to the fall of the world. “Must men put on the iron glove?” he asked.

    The Reverend John Williams of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church made a distinction between the mainstream suffragists and the radical fringe. Nonetheless, he argued that the more moderate element of the movement failed to limit the excesses of the radicals who were undermining Christian morality, marriage, and home life. The Victorian ideal that a woman’s place was in the home as preordained by God. “God meant for women to reign over home, and most good women reject politics because woman suffrage will destroy society.”

    And a minister from Ponca, Nebraska quoted scripture and said that God simply forgot to list one more commandment — women shall not vote

    Gender has been removed as an obstruction to marriage just as it was removed 95 years ago as an obstruction to voting, but like many ,many other things that are not accepted in homes or churches it will need to be tolerated in our roles as citizens to further the cause of freedom.


  4. Roger Cornelius


    I’ve been weighing that same question for some time now, what is the conservative right obsession with marriage equality?
    We have literally hundreds of laws on the books that don’t affect all individuals or groups, yet the right wing has zeroed in on marriage equality and homosexuality when there are far serious sins being committed against all society that have dire consequences.
    South Dakota continually ranks as one the most corrupt states in the union, yet the “Thou Shall Not Steal” commandment is being ignored by our Republican leadership and somehow that theft in cases like EB-5 is legal or justified.
    “Thou Shall Not Kill” takes a beating everyday in our country with each mass murder becoming worse than the last and the Republican leadership that could help to save lives, hides behind the protections of the 2nd Amendment.
    I suppose we could go through all Ten Commandments and find how Republicans continually violate them.
    Most interestingly to me is that homosexuality and marriage equality are not among the Ten Commandments.
    Perhaps it is projection on their part, their voices get louder and more irrational everyday for some reason, what is that reason?

  5. Roger Cornelius

    Barry Smith,

    Yours is another question that I have had on my mind and have commented about on relative threads on DFP.

    The religious and conservative fear mongering have happened more than once in our history, not only with women’s right to vote, but including interracial marriage and the Civil Rights Act. Remember that the greatest American president in our history, Abraham Lincoln, was opposed to voting rights for women.

    I’m old enough to remember the interracial marriage and Civil Rights debates where similar irrational religious rants were made. Interracial marriage was against God’s law and the nation would be in turmoil in 50 years because of it. Civil Rights weren’t needed because women and minorities were asking for special rights instead of protection for their rights, again the Civil Rights Act would doom the country.
    We can probably take any social change in our history and find those archaic arguments being made today, those observations from the radical right were proven wrong over time and the arguments against marriage equality, like women’s voting rights, Civil Rights, interracial marriage, will endure the test of time.

  6. happy camper

    Ultra conservatives stuck on the gay issue are uncomfortable with their own sexuality. We are all bisexual to some degree. Yeah, you’re all just a little bit gay, and I’m just a little bit straight. Ugh. They just can’t handle that. It doesn’t fit their doctrine so they deflect, overcompensate, and live in denial. The worst of course are those self haters who are actually gay.

  7. mikeyc, that's me!

    Old Republican men in Pierre have been
    getting their jollies peaking into our bedrooms for years.

  8. Joan Brown

    Barry Smith, you are right that there are certain religions that don’t condone marriage for gays, but then on the other hand, they shouldn’t be trying to force their beliefs on others. When they do that they are being judgmental and the Bible does say “judge not, lest ye be judged. Right off hand, I can’t remember where in the Bible it also says that the only grounds for divorce is adultery, and that the person that has committed adultery is the guilty party and if he/she has a relationship or remarries he/she is causing the person they are involved with to commit adultery. I wonder if these ultra conservatives believe that part of the Bible. It seems like they are awfully good at picking and choosing the parts of the Bible that they want people to follow. There is also a lot of do as I say, not as I do among them too.

  9. Michael Hope wrote:
    >“The point is, Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality at all.”

    Christ clearly condemned all fornications.

    “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
    —Jesus Christ

    He also clearly defined the institution traditionally known as marriage.

    “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
    —Jesus Christ

  10. Barry: wonderful note.
    Roger: nice follow-up, though I read that the Aramaic translation of ‘thou shalt not kill’ is more accurately, ‘thou shall not murder’ – which is far more rational for we all are able to image many justifications for justifiable homicide while remaining godly.

    And now South Dakota’s leading ‘law enforcement officer’, South Dakota’s AG, protector of the Constitution says, apparently in effect, that if a county worker does not want to serve homosexuals, niggers, prairie niggers, Mexicans, Hutterites or other Germans, or the Irish – that county worker may turn the case and “service” over to a county worker who will uphold the Constitution. What a state?! What an apparent small mind?! Just what Constitution does the AG subscribe to, a constitution to self? to election?

    Moderate me, please.

  11. Roger Cornelius

    Thanks John,

    When I googled Thou Shall Not Kill I found multiple references on the interpretation of the commandment, it comes down to whether it is kill, murder or homicide, it is a safe assumption that someone is dead by another’s hand.

    I just completed Jackley’s press releases as well as some laws the legislature intends to take up next session regarding marriage.

    Jackley is disgusting, he wants to protect the religious liberty of public employees that don’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, what he needs to say is that if a public employee refuses to serve ALL of the public they should be fired or resign.

  12. Douglas Wiken

    Roger hits the Jackley nail on the head. Local paper had a peculiarly ignorant and stupid editorial cast as news. The column totally distorted the court ruling and then put in about six quotes from right-wing religious lunatics.

  13. If those public service employees refuse to do their jobs there are plenty of other South Dakotans that would love to have their jobs. Those jobs generally pay decent, have good hours and benefits.

  14. Deb Geelsdottir

    Kurt, a little context for your Jesus quote. He was responding to a question about divorce, which at that time was only a heterosexual issue. There was no such thing as marriage equality at that time, thus no reason to address it.

  15. Deb wrote:
    >“Kurt, a little context for your Jesus quote. He was responding to a question about divorce, which at that time was only a heterosexual issue. There was no such thing as marriage equality at that time, thus no reason to address it.”

    Thanks, Deb. Good points. That’s why any act of consensual homosexual intercourse was regarded as a fornication.