Love at the County Courthouse

Photo: Leesburg Today

The Rev. Don Prange, Pastor of Lovettsville’s St. James Church, appeared outside the Loudoun County Circuit Courthouse to witness love, the love of same sex couples, committed to a union that the court and the laws of Virginia fail to recognize or allow.

Had these couples gone first to the Clerk’s Office and asked to file a marriage certificate, they would have been rebuffed.

Episcopal Priest, Daniel Velez Rivera, said, “God has made us equal in his image” but the law doesn’t recognize persons made in his image as equal.

Rev. Prange regretted that his parishioners, in a same sex union, had to leave Virginia to get married, and to leave the Commonwealth of Virginia entirely so that their family could have health benefits.

Rev. Prange said he hoped by giving witness in the sight of a court of law that Virginia “will stop playing God and let people live in the faith of their love for each other.”

Rabbi Michael Ragozin of Leesburg’s Congregation Sha’are Shalom, and Unitarian Minister Anya Sammler-Michael also participated.

The most moving aspect of the ceremony was when the same sex couples gathered at the center of a circle formed by the clergy.

The clergy invited any to join these couples if they had previously participated in a commitment ceremony.

Then there was the laying of hands, a hand on the shoulder or arm of the person in front of the celebrants and on the couple.

There was a blessing and a message of hope that a change in Virginia law is inevitable.

Rev. Prange explained what he was doing, “We are building the world we dream about, where all souls thrive in a diverse and loving community, acting daily on our commitment to justice.

[Note: This article should have been published on April 3rd.]

25 thoughts on “Love at the County Courthouse

  1. John P. Flannery

    It is impossible for me to understand how someone can purport to be Christian, have ever read the sermon on the mount, and be so intolerant of how others make a family and love each other. There is a lot of nativist xenophobia that ignores historical reasons for all manner of family situations including polygamy and almost every conceivable arrangement. We hurt more people out of ignorance and intolerance and hate in the name of this or that God and we say it’s for the betterment of human kind. Bull Feathers!

  2. Pariahdog

    A 404 is a URL not found. Are you running any blocking software locally, David Dickinson? Could it be something on your end?

  3. Epluribusunum

    David, I am at a loss. There’s nothing in moderation, no words are blacklisted, I just posted a comment as a non-admin. If you have more than one link it should just go into moderation. Can you send me the comment you tried to post? I don’t know what else to look at. I’m sorry about this. The server has been annoyingly unstable lately, but I don’t know that there’s a connection to this problem.

  4. David Dickinson

    I give up. I just tried a 2 sentence version and it failed. I tried posting to another thread and it failed.

  5. David Dickinson

    Keep getting a 404 error. Don’t know why “test” worked. Don’t know if this will work.

  6. Epluribusunum

    I hate to say this, but this motion to intervene in the case challenging Kentucky’s anti-marriage amendment, Love v. Beshear, is virtually indistinguishable from the reasoning I’m hearing from you, David D. He displays exactly the same misunderstanding of the constitutional issues at stake as you do. The judge, given that this man has apparently been warned before about frivolous filings, was kind in his response.

  7. Epluribusunum

    David D, there aren’t any comments in moderation on this thread, and comments are open. Can you provide more detail about being unable to post? I can’t see what the problem might be.

  8. Epluribusunum

    No, you don’t understand. It’s a constitutional question, and I’ve already given you my reasoning. The issue is, and has been in past cases where the state has excluded some people from the fundamental right to marriage, whether the state can justify its exclusion with evidence and reason. The state was unable to do so when it tried to exclude interracial couples from marriage, and it is unable to do so now in trying to exclude same gender couples from marriage. The state has failed to demonstrate a rational reason for its exclusion – as have you. You haven’t made an argument at all, only a strange assertion whose meaning isn’t even clear. What in the world does “demoralized marriage” even mean? Nothing that any court wouldn’t simply dismiss as incoherent and unsubstantiated. I’ve read enough of the post-Windsor rulings that I can see them rolling their eyes.

    When it comes to changing the basic structure of marriage (as opposed to excluding certain people from it), the proponents will have to articulate arguments for a right to to “choose as many marriage partners as they want” that overcome the state’s rationale for maintaining marriage as it is. This isn’t conjecture – we’ve just seen an example of those arguments in play recently in the Utah polygamy case. If you read the briefs and the opinion it’s obvious that the state and the amici have entirely different arguments, because it’s an entirely different situation. Sorry. That’s not my fight. It’s interesting, and as I said I’m open to hearing their arguments and having my mind changed, but it has nothing to do with marriage equality for LGBT people. The only relationship between these things is in your imagination.

  9. David Dickinson

    The boundary for marriage for you is at 2 people. Thank you for answering the question.

    Another question: would you actively oppose polygamy/polyandry? Or, would you just let those proponents make their arguments and listen? If multiple marriage was on the ballot, would you vote for it?

    ” it represents a non sequitur”

    Actually, it is the exact opposite, as was mentioned in the article. That is, once you de-moralized marriage, the question is how can you stop at just gay marriage? Marriage has descended from what is right (a good and a bad) to what is political (who has the power).

    I’m curious, how would you defend your 1+1 position to a polygamist? How do you counter the argument that adults of their own free will should be able to choose as many marriage partners as they want? If you can get married several times through a series of divorces, why can’t you just marry a number of people at once?

    Short of the political answer that the majority of the people find it icky and therefore would vote against it, I don’t see a good answer. In fact, I see the 1+1 crowd being forced to use many of the arguments that Judeo-Christians are using right now against the gay marriage argument.

    Please prove me wrong.

  10. Epluribusunum

    Is this what you want to open marriage up to..

    LOL, David.

    The fact that you bring this nonsense here, to us, as if you don’t even realize it represents a non sequitur, shows how little you understand of marriage itself.

    I remain open to hearing arguments from the proponents of plural marriage that could convince me otherwise, but I don’t see how a partnership between more than two people could be the equivalent of a partnership between two people. As Pariahdog said, 1+1=2, anything else doesn’t. Marriage, at least as we currently understand it to be, as a mutual partnership between two equal individuals who each pledge all of themselves to the other, forsaking all others, is dyadic by definition. That is why it is stabilizing; two people have committed to taking full responsibility for each other, come what may. How can you give ‘all’ of yourself to more than one other person? What if there’s a genuine conflict between the welfare of two of the three partners? The math doesn’t work. This is structural, and a far more consequential issue than the personal characteristics (race, religion, gender) of the two people in a dyadic marriage.

    If plural marriage proponents can articulate arguments for their position that overcome the state interest in maintaining marriage as dyadic, they can and should make them. That’s what those before us had to do in favor of allowing marriage regardless of race, and what we had to do in favor of marriage regardless of gender. These would be qualitatively different arguments, though, and I confess that I don’t know what they might be. In fact, it seems to me that the arguments we have successfully made for marriage as a fundamental right, exactly because they are so deeply conservative, have already undermined any future plural marriage arguments. You’re welcome.

  11. Pariahdog


    Millions and millions of misuses of language don’t make it right. Judiasm employs the Talmudic tradition of reason. The so-called “Judeo-Christian Worldview” doesn’t. The people who use the term have misappropriated Judiasm for their own political purposes.

    Speaking of millions, we marriage traditionalists know how to count and how to add.


    If you don’t grok that, go ask somebody else to explain. I’m not responsible for the views of others nor am I responsible for Washington Times fear-mongering, nor am I that interested in what the Massachusetts court does with the “throuple’s” case. Chase the slippery slope all you want but don’t bring it here. David explained our position.

  12. David Dickinson

    @Pariahdog. Substitute “traditional biblical” for Judeo-Christian if you’d like.

    “The above demonstrates why there is no such thing as a “Judeo-Christian” world view or belief system.” The hundreds of millions of adherents would disagree. While you may not like spinach, it exists and is good for you regardless of your opinion of distastefulness.

    “This is how passionate they are about maintaining their privileged, exclusionary definition of marriage.”

    Is this what you want to open marriage up to, from the Washington Times editorial today: “EDITORIAL: Lesbian ‘throuple’ proves Scalia right on slippery slopes”

    “Well, that didn’t take long. Doll, Brynn and Kitten Young, a lesbian trio, have declared themselves the world’s first “throuple.” The Massachusetts women claim to be “married” and await their first child. Massachusetts doesn’t recognize “throuple marriage” yet, but the year is young. When the Supreme Court eviscerated authentic marriage last year, this was foretold. There’s already an organized movement, led by college professors, for what might be called “grouple” marriage.”


    “Lesbian activist Masha Gessen lifted the veil on the radical homosexual agenda when she told a Sydney, Australia, audience in May 2012 that same-sex marriage is “a lie.” “Fighting for gay marriage,” she said, “generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there,” adding, “It’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.””

    Tell me, please. What is the ideal definition of marriage to you? What are the outer limits of boundaries that should not be crossed: What is the minimum age for marriage? What about multiple spouses?

  13. Epluribusunum

    The “forty day fast” trumpeted by the so-called “Family” Foundation is, as it turns out, a bit of an embarrassment. What they mean by “fasting” isn’t what most people would assume. What they mean is that they’ll forego Diet Coke(tm) for forty days. Seriously, this is on their website. This is how passionate they are about maintaining their privileged, exclusionary definition of marriage. Martyrdom sure ain’t what it used to be.

  14. Pariahdog

    Now, marriage is being upended and we have a true ethical dilemma (i.e. how to reconcile two or more value systems). How to reconcile the beliefs of pagans and Judeo-Christian believers?

    “You do share the planet with people of other faith traditions.”

    Yes, the planet. But not heaven, with the exception of pre-Christ Jews.

    The above demonstrates why there is no such thing as a “Judeo-Christian” world view or belief system. “Christian” “believers” have abandoned Jewish (scientific) thinking. The have discarded reason with ill, malicious intent, and replaced it with self-indulgence, anger, fear and superstition.

    David Dickinson, I hope your considering a forty day anti-marriage fast. Enjoy.

  15. David Dickinson

    “Will you be disappointed when you don’t make it, … to heaven?”

    I will be very pleased to worship the Lord forever when this body perishes or Jesus Christ returns, whichever comes first.

  16. David Dickinson

    Now, on your other point of marriage. There are two things here: biblical marriage and societal marriage.

    Biblical marriage is very cut and dry: one man and one woman in a marriage covenant for their entire lives. The only exception is an allowance for divorce in cases of adultery and, even then, only if the offended spouse is unable to forgive the offender.

    Societal marriage is much more complicated. Societies for eons have found great value in marriage for a variety of reasons, some of which you stated. How Americans have defined marriage (actually we really haven’t had a need to define it because it was universally understood) has been relatively easy up to this point because we have been a predominantly Christian nation throughout our history.

    Now, marriage is being upended and we have a true ethical dilemma (i.e. how to reconcile two or more value systems). How to reconcile the beliefs of pagans and Judeo-Christian believers? Well, that is what society is struggling with right now.

  17. David Dickinson

    “Do you honestly believe this stuff?”

    Every word of it.

    ” I don’t think that Unitarians consider themselves a “Christian” denomination”

    Some do and some don’t. They’re Unitarians. They can be whatever they want to be…or not.

    “Hopefully you don’t also believe that you’re entitled to call Conservative Judaism “apostasy.” ”

    No, because they don’t fall under even the widest definition of the Christian Church as they completely reject Jesus.

    “You do share the planet with people of other faith traditions.”

    Yes, the planet. But not heaven, with the exception of pre-Christ Jews.

  18. Epluribusunum

    Do you honestly believe this stuff?

    Fyi, I don’t think that Unitarians consider themselves a “Christian” denomination, so your application of “apostate” to that tradition is kind of meaningless (once we get past the hubris part). Hopefully you don’t also believe that you’re entitled to call Conservative Judaism “apostasy.” You do share the planet with people of other faith traditions.

    Since I don’t think you are mean-spirited either, I will honestly tell you that my marriage of over 30 years is the thing I most value in life. You’re married, right? So you understand that. And while that is of course very personal, I don’t value just my own marriage for those personal reasons. I am in fact a marriage conservative, someone who believes that the institution of marriage is vital to the stability of society and should be strengthened. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to have the ability to marry the partner with whom they want to enter into that lifelong commitment. What actually devalues marriage is the pretense that a real marriage can exist between people who are not suited for each other (by having, for example, the wrong genders and orientations). That idea turns marriage into a joke.

    So if marriage according to some particular religious definition is an institution in your church, that’s fine for the people who choose to be members of that church. What we are talking about, though, is marriage as an institution in society. That includes everyone, whether or not they are part of a faith community. People of no faith were just as welcome to participate in our witness, as some did.

  19. David Dickinson

    The members of the group that attended must have some degree of religiousity, given that they are attending a gathering with clergy. These “earnest” people are “patently deceived” because they are ascribing some degree of holiness to something that is completely unholy: gay marriage.

    The photo above shows how Satan (i.e. the great deceiver himself) is at work at so many levels:

    1. Infiltrating the clergy. By deceiving clergy, Satan is able to lead more people astray. Now, we have entire congregations of apostates (such as Unitarians) who find solace in their common apostasy and legitimize it by forming congregations.
    2. Devaluing marriage. As Satan continues his attack on marriage (gay marriage, adultery, divorce, pornography, polygamy, etc.) he continues to erode a key institution of the Church that represents the closest thing on Earth that we have to fully understanding a relationship that ultimately mirrors God’s love toward each of us and his bride, the Church.
    3. Acceptance of homosexuality. Deceiving people to accept sin is a tried and true practice of Satan from the very beginning. (Genesis, Satan talking to Eve: “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”). Once people are deceived to believe good is evil and evil is good, it is much easier to have them continue in sin.

    So, I say, “It is sad to see so many earnest people so patently deceived” because I don’t think the people in the photo are mean-spirited or even conscious of the wrong that they are doing, but what they are doing is abhorrent nevertheless.

  20. Epluribusunum

    That’s not what he said, though. I think you’re putting words in his mouth. David, can you explain a little better what it is you’re trying to say? Whoever you’re referring to, it does come across as rather arrogant.

    I was there, and it was a very moving and joyous ceremony.

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