When I was growing up in the United Methodist church, I remember racing my sister to see who could get to "our" pew first. Each Sunday, we sat in the same place -- right under the stained glass window that depicted an angelic representation of Matthew (my name), and my mom would lean over and whisper, "You know Matthew means 'gift of God,' right?" Church on Sunday was a huge part of my life -- baptism, confirmation, ski trips, choir, the list goes on.
But when I was told that my life was incompatible with Christian teachings for being gay, that sense of belonging was ripped away from me in an instant.
I grew up believing -- as I still do -- that God loves all people. I believe that the overriding message of Scripture and the purpose of the United Methodist Church is to express the love of God and Jesus Christ to all -- and to deny the dignity and joy of marriage to fellow believers is inconsistent with that message of hope and love.
I long for a denomination where I am not only truly cherished and fully valued in the eyes of my Church, but I'm able to walk down the very same aisle I ran down as a child to marry the person I love. It's time for the United Methodist Church to embrace the fullness and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of the church, and to embrace marriage equality for all.