following statement by Bishop Sally Dyck was originally posted in the
news section of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church website
on January 10, 2013, and is used with her permission.
Bishop's Statement on Illinois Marriage Equality Bill
To the Clergy and Members of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference.
January 10, 2013
Today the new General Assembly of the State of Illinois is expected to discuss
and soon vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. It is
expected that it will pass into law. I want to express my views on it and my
support of it as law.
I believe in the institution of marriage as the source of emotional and legal
stability and security for families and communities.
In May I will have been married for 37 years. I have many friends who are not
presently married and have never married, but I believe most of them have
wanted to find a lifelong relationship to which they are committed for
spiritual, physical and emotional comfort and support.
And I have friends, acquaintances and former parishioners who have been in
lifelong relationships with someone but have not been able to have their
relationships recognized by the state or the church because they are in a
same-sex relationship. In spite of all the same pressures and stresses that
heterosexual couples face, they have managed to stay faithful and true to each
other, providing stability and strength not only for their families but for
their communities and churches.
Marriage also provides stability and security for me in a way that I usually
take for granted especially as both my husband and I grow older. We just assume
that we can be with each other in the emergency room or that if, God forbid,
something happens to the other that we will be provided for through our
combined resources. After all, we've built those resources together over the
last almost 37 years.
But same-sex couples can't assume the same benefits, not even the benefit of
being with each other should there be an emergency or in critical last moments
to hold the other's hand...no one should have to be getting permission to be by
a loved one's side at a time like that but that is the reality for same-sex
I believe in marriage because it also is the institution that best provides for
the well-being of children. I believe that children need to have parents who
have the emotional and legal benefits of marriage as well as parents who are
active in their lives.
In addition to the benefits of marriage that I have described above, I also
believe that the State of Illinois needs to be on the forefront (if #10 of 50
is the forefront) of providing for marriage equality in order to promote
economic growth. People look for places to work and start businesses that will
attract as many good workers, entrepreneurs and business people as possible and
a marriage equality state can provide that added edge to the competitive
While the United Methodist Church holds that the practice of homosexuality is
incompatible with Christian teaching, it also holds the teaching and a long
tradition (albeit a struggle every inch of the way) of civil rights. Marriage
equality is a civil rights issue; it provides for all what is afforded to some.
The marriage equality act in Illinois does not bind anyone who is licensed by
the state to perform marriages to perform a marriage for a same-sex couple (as
no one can bind us to perform a marriage for a heterosexual couple). In fact,
even though I support this legislation, I can't perform a same-sex marriage as
a United Methodist clergy person and as the bishop I can't give permission to
any other clergy to do the same. But just because I can't provide the service
of marriage to same-sex couples doesn't mean that I should prevent people from
being able to commit their lives to each other in the State of Illinois.
Therefore, I believe it is to the benefit of our families, communities and the
state of Illinois for the Marriage Equality Bill to become law in our state.
Not all United Methodists will agree with my belief on marriage and they are
entitled to their own belief. Because I believe in marriage, it's my belief it
will be a benefit for this law to pass.
Bishop Sally Dyck
Bishop Sally Dyck, ordained in 1981, was consecrated a bishop in 2004 and assigned to lead the Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church beginning in September of that year. She was reassigned to the Northern Illinois Conference beginning September 1, 2012.
Before entering the episcopacy, Bishop Dyck served as an elder in the East Ohio Conference, where she was a pastor and a district superintendent. She has served on the board of directors for the General Board of Global Ministries, was elected to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in 2006, and became president of the United Methodist Commission on Communications in 2008.
She received theological training from Boston University School of Theology (M. Div., 1978), University of Geneva/World Council of Churches (graduate certificate, 1978), and United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio (D. Min., Black Church Studies, 1989). Her upbringing in a Mennonite home instilled in her the understanding that personal piety is inextricably woven to peace and justice advocacy.
She has been married to the Rev. Kenneth Ehrman, a United Methodist elder, since 1976. The two have traveled the globe together by plane, bicycle, and on foot.