Symposium Focuses on Religion and Same-Sex Marriage

By Nadia Crow, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa- The first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church made a stop in Iowa City Saturday. This, on the heels of yesterday's Iowa Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex couples to have both their names on a child's birth certificate.

"It's good to see the momentum going in the right direction," said Congregational United Church of Christ member and symposium organizer Courtney Rowe.

The momentum from a historic ruling spurs plenty of conversation at the first symposium on religion and same-sex marriage in Iowa City at the Congregational United Church of Christ Saturday. That Iowa Supreme Court decision says both parents' names, regardless of gender, can be put on a birth certificate. An especially important ruling to partners Courtney and Raven Rowe who plan to have a child together.

"She may be a student and I may be the one that's providing health coverage and if that child that isn't legally mine or I have to pay a tax penalty," said Rowe.

A pioneer of challenging the status quo, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson attended the forum to offer his take.

"Iowa has played a real leading role nationally," said Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

But more than legal issues state-by-state or nationally, this forum, at a church, focused on religion and how people of faith view same-sex couples.

"Religion is right at the center of the debate. Religion is used against us. Even people who haven't stepped a foot inside a church, so it's really important for leaders to say 'we don't all feel that way," said Robinson.

Bishop's latest book, God Believes in Love, expresses Courtney's button, "it's just love." In their words, love prevailing over legalities or the religious right.

Those who attended the forum say more religious groups are in support of gay marriage. But the more conservative churches have more money to voice their opinions against the LGBT community.
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