Love & the Law: the Legal & Spiritual Roles of a Quaker Meeting in Marriages & in Ceremonies of Commitment between Same-sex Couples "Under the Care of the Meeting"

Copyright © 1995, Michael A. Christianson, Esq. License granted for any loving, nonprofit use upon written notification to the author, Michael A. Christianson, Esq. Internet: Not intended as general legal advice. Consult your own legal counsel.

Pasadena, Maryland
May 19,1995

Dear Friends,

Currently, Annapolis (MD) Monthly Meeting is reviewing its practice toward marriages and ceremonies of commitment for same sex couples. Because of my legal background, I prepared an essay on "Love and the Law" outlining some of the history, social context and law relevant to our search for guidance as to what, specifically, the "care of the meeting" means and involves in these situations.

Several Annapolis Friends were kind enough to tell me how helpful the essay had been to their reflections on these issues. They suggested that other Friends might benefit if I submitted the essay for publication in a Quaker publication such as Friends Journal. Although I am a devoted reader of the "Journal", I believe in using the internet for the widest, decentralized distribution of information and ideas.

For these reasons, I am making the essay (and any subsequent written materials) available on the Internet. Although I retain a copyright, anyone is free to use any of this material for any loving, nonprofit purpose. Please inform me if you do, but you already have a license limited only as I have noted.

What follows is not an exhaustive legal analysis, nor is it written in legal jargon. Rather, I have attempted a relatively short, plain English discussion of the issues (legal & social) which a Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends confronts as the Meeting attempts to follow its leading to acknowledge and support all "committed, loving and permanent relationships". Although based on Maryland law, the issues and legal context should be generally applicable to all American Quaker Meetings.

I hope that some of you find this work helpful in your own search into these issues. The ideas, of course, are my own. Except where indicated, they do not yet represent any sense of our Annapolis Meeting. Please feel free to contact me at my email address if you have any questions or comments.

In Peace,

Mike Christianson
Annapolis Monthly Meeting


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