Should same gender couples be banned from programs like ‘Marriage Enrichment?’

Should same gender or non-traditional couples who need help strengthening their relationship be excluded from programs like Marriage Enrichment

Right now, if we need that kind of program we are out of luck: “Our organization is based on the Biblical definition of marriage which is between one man and one woman.” Marriage Enrichment, Inc. Executive Administrator JoAnn Johnson told Oasis California in a recent email. Marriage Enrichment and Episcopal Marriage Encounter — the two most popular programs churches offer to help members strengthen their marriages — both ban same gender couples from attending their sessions.

Oasis California is hoping that at least one of these groups will change their policy and begin to offer a single program that is open to both heterosexual and same sex couples. If not, we will develop and market our own ministry aimed at helping couples strengthen their relationship.

While we wait for a positive response from one of these groups, we’re looking to gather a short-term working group that will help Oasis California scope out what we would need to do to develop and launch an effective program that could, if necessary, compete directly with these two old programs. Our bottom line is the availability of a weekend or evening workshop that (1) is open to both straight and same sex couples; and (2) works.

So on behalf of Oasis California we are looking for people to help us answer these three sets of questions:

1.  Is there both a need and demand for this kind of program? If not, don't need to fix this, and we won't.

2. If we need a new program, who are the key people to bring into the process so we can scope out what we need to do, what it will cost, how long it will take, how much money we need and who is the best group to coordinate this effort?

3. What else should we be thinking about at this point?

We plan to work through email, video conferencing, perhaps one face-to-face meeting and lots (and lots) of email. At the end of this short term effort the working group will dissolve to make way for a small project management group. Please let us know if you would like to join in the short term group — or if you just want to talk with us, but really cannot stand to be on just one more committee. Our goal is to figure out what to do next and move on.

Thanks for your consideration.

The Rev. Thomas C. Jackson
President, Oasis California