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Equal Light, Equal Rights

Yes, this is partly a political post so if you don't agree with things like civil rights, marriage equality, and progress for LGBTQ individuals, this might not be the post for you. But you know what I really love about contemporary Paganism? One would be hard pressed to find someone who isn't on board with these issues in our movement. That is another post entirely though.

This sabbat week of Ostara is a very significant one for me. As a Wiccan, it has been part of my religious culture for most of my life to reflect on the balance of light and dark at this time. To reach towards the expanding light as I examine and honor my own dark qualities within and without. But this Ostara feels so much more tangible and Earthly than usual. The world is on the edge of so much change and I think others are sensing that more and more every day. The timing is incredible, and I'll explain way.

I work for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization working for LGBTQ equality in the United States. In my work here in Washington DC, I get to see first-hand some of the most amazing legislative and culture-based changes. These are changed that many of my older friends thought they would never see in their lifetimes. Workplaces are increasing benefits for same-sex couples all over the country. Schools are implementing anti-bullying programs to help queer youth and their families. Currently, nine states plus the District of Columbia allow same-same marriage and there are several more possible states that could be added to that before the year is out. To say that we are on the precipice of a huge cultural shift would be an understatement. Recent polling shows that for the first time ever, the majority of Americans support marriage equality for all citizens.

Why does this make me think of the current Spring Equinox observances? Sure the timing is great, but there is so much more going on. As we move forward into spring, the expansion of light in the northern hemisphere is more noticeable than ever. The Earth is waking up from its slumber because of its gentle turning. It is moving towards the light. We can measure it, predict it, and and see it with our own eyes. This what I am seeing with the equality movement. No longer is my country evenly divided on the topic, its gone into the majority. The equality movement feels like the day after Ostara to me- reaching for that light with a renewed sense of hope and excitement. Our culture is examining its own fears and reservations around these topics, bringing them to light, and discovering that letting everyone have an equal opportunity isn't so scary after all. 

On March 26th and 27th, two of the most historic cases to ever be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States will begin. One case would overturn Proposition 8, which years ago banned marriage equality for all same-sex California citizens. The second trial would overturn DOMA (the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act"). Depending on how the SCOTUS rules, both of these trials could have major nation-wide effects that would change the course of our movement forever. People from all over the country will be arriving here in the District to rally at the trial on Tuesday. A crew of people (including me) will be sleeping outside on the sidewalk of the Supreme Court on Monday night before the rally on Tuesday. That night I will facilitate a ritual calling upon the guardian Goddess of DC and of the United States, Columbia. We will ask Columbia to bring the sword of victory to our work, leading us in the march to freedom and justice. Before the Tuesday rally, I'll attend an interfaith service with some of my of my coreligionists and people of other faiths. Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be speaking at the service to give a voice from the Pagan perspective. This is all a very big deal.

I now call upon all equality-supportive Pagans from around the nation to lend energetic and physical support to this work. On Monday at 6:45pm eastern time, send power and prayers to our ritual for justice. Then, see if there is a rally in your own city and attend if you can.

Together we can play a big role in moving towards the light of freedom and justice. This week of equal night and day will transform our nation into a place that is one step closer to equality for all.

Last modified on
David Salisbury is a queer, vegan, Witch and author experiencing life in our nations capital. David is Wiccan clergy within the Firefly Tradition and is High Priest of Coven of the Spiral Moon, a Firefly coven based in DC. The focal point of his spiritual practice is one of service, activism and respect. To fulfill this vocation, he is a full time employee with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization. He is the author of The Deep Heart of Witchcraft (Moon Books, 2013) and Teen Spirit Wicca (Soul Rocks, 2014).


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Saturday, 06 April 2013

    Supporting pagan freedom is a worthy goal, but freedom does not mean that 21st century pagans should toss away a hundred thousand years of pagan tradition supporting marriage and families. Marriage is and always has been the biological union that creates children and joins two families in blood. In a real physical meaning the children are the marriage. Every historical and pre-historical pagan culture that survived has supported and protected our families and our children. Some anthropologists have suggested that homo-sapiens dominated over Neanderthals because our pagan pre-history clans and tribes supported their marriage and families. Real pagan marriage support and tradition was ancient when King Hammurabi of Babylon put down almost a hundred rules for marriage in the newly invented writing. Real marriage and family has also been supported by every successful religious group from the most primitive the most primitive tribal shaman to all the modern mega-religions. Religions that fail to support marriage and family soon un-breed themselves into extinction, as the Shakers for example.

    Non-breeding has already become so common among the European derived peoples that we are now being rapidly replaced by culture that still support marriages and families. Millions of American children suffer in single parent homes, or no-parent homes. It has become a human tragedy of unprecedented magnitude. Instead of pagans working to destroy even the basic common understanding of what marriage means and why people have always supported marriage, pagans need to reaffirm our ancient support for real families and real pagan children.

    That doesn't mean pagans should attack those who choose not to marry or who love someone who they cannot produce children with. It does mean that we can support real marriage, children, and families, without criticizing who someone loves. The meaning of life is life. Pagans need to support and affirm the union and monumental labors of those who spend years of their lives to produce and nurture the next generation of Pagans. Our children and our families are past, and our future. We should not be throwing that away on the altar of misguided agendas. Marriage is about blood, not about love.

  • David Salisbury
    David Salisbury Wednesday, 10 April 2013

    The argument that gay marriage will result in human extinction is - to put it as kindly as I can - absolutely ridiculous. There are nearly 7 billion people on Earth, a number that is ten times what it was just a few hundred years ago. There is no shortage of people on Earth unless some catastrophic event wipes out 90% of our population. Such fear-mongering has no place in the values of most Pagans I know, although of course I can't speak for all. This is real life, not a science-fiction movie.

    Further, there is no evidence to suggest that same-sex families result in suffering children. On the flipside, most heterosexual marriages end in divorce. The divorce rate of straight couples has nothing to do with LGBT families coming together.

    I don't need to support the next generation of Pagans by having biological children myself (although its important to note that many gay couples can have biological children too..its called insemination). In my state I have the full freedom and means to adopt if and when I decide to do that. So using children as a hook for your argument is as low as it is invalid. Good try though.

    If your marriage is about "blood" that is your business. My relationship is about love and family and I'm proud that the extremely vast majority of Pagans support me in the pursuit of the legal recognition of that.

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Wednesday, 10 April 2013

    Argumentum ad Absurdum. Nobody alleges that all people will go extinct. The whole human population won't go extinct, but subgroups that fail to support marriage and families will be replaced by those that do. Birth rates are already well below replacement among "liberal" populations.
    Argumentum ad Populum. Appealing to "most pagans" is another logical fallacy.
    Gay couples don't "have biological children." That is absurd. Gays even in your argument have to resort to non-gay partners, like every other parent. There is a reason that Mother Nature has always favored two parents in every species higher than slime mold.
    The gay war on marraige and families that has been taught to a whole generation of children and young adults is offensive, divisive, and sad.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Wednesday, 10 April 2013

    Greybeard: with all due respect, if marriage is primarily about "blood children" then logically no couples intending to be childless should be allowed to wed. The same thing should logically apply to marriage between persons known to be infertile (including new marriages between women past menopause and any partner.) And, by the way, since when has the Goddess of "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals" cared who married whom? If you are a member of a specific tradition which promulgates the values you are describing, maybe you could elucidate that theology for the rest of us.

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Wednesday, 10 April 2013

    Yes, Anne, every historical and pre-historical pagan society has supported real blood marriage, families, and children. That support has been a central feature of pagan culture since the most primitive clans and tribes, and are well represented by Goddesses of fertility and childbirth. However you slide quickly from discussing marriage and families into "acts of love" which is another topic entirely. Marriage is not about "love" whatever the heck that may be. Marriage is about blood and children, and has been for a probably a million years or more. The deliberate confusing between modern anti-marriage and anti-family advocacy an a misunderstanding of marriage is deliberate and wrong. Perhaps you could document any historic or prehistoric pagan cultures that did not support marriage and families as the biological union that produces children and joins families in blood.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Wednesday, 10 April 2013

    Yes, Pagan societies have also supported slavery, war, and lots of other things. Like, say, pedastry, patriarchy, and the subjugation of women. (As well as lots of good things, too, of course.) Just because Pagan societies in the past supported something historically isn't a good enough reason to support it today. If I'd wanted that kind of "we did it in the past and that's good enough for me" I'd have stayed orthodox Christian. Otherwise, it would be impossible to be both a feminist and a Pagan, and I'm proud to be both. There's also so many cases of gods and goddesses acting in non-gendered ways in mythology that the mind boggles. (Just for the record, I'm also a married woman with a 25+ year commitment to my husband and three sons.) As for dissing "love," yeah, the ancients mostly pre-arranged their marriages for property and alliances. Are you suggesting we go back to that model, as well?

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