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Laguna Hills: 'It's a justice issue'

June 17, 2008 | 12:39 pm

The Rev. John Millspaugh, minister of Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Mission Viejo, felt so strongly that gay marriage should be legal that he and his wife two years ago traveled to have their wedding in a state where it was allowed--Massachusetts--because "we didn't feel like we could get married in California with a clear conscience."

"Even though my wife and I are straight, we felt that only there could we get married in keeping with our values," he said. "Today, that changed."

Tuesday morning he and several congregants passed out congratulatory roses to couples, gay and straight, who emerged from the Laguna Hills Civic Center, one of two places in Orange County issuing marriage licenses and conducting ceremonies.

"Nothing could be more appropriate than a religious voice supporting equality," he said. He said he was there because he wanted to show a positive religious presence to counter the backlash anticipated from more conservative faiths.

Millspaugh said that was especially important being in right-leaning southern Orange County, where his congregation occasionally gets harassing phone messages from neighbors and critics upset with the church's acceptance of same-sex marriage.

He also accompanied one longtime gay couple from his church to get their marriage license Tuesday. He will marry them Wednesday, waiving his usual requirement that they go through pre-marital counseling and pay a fee beforehand.

"It's a justice issue," he said. "If they say they're ready to marry, I'll believe them."

--Tony Barboza