For Pastor Steve Holm, support for the freedom to marry has been a natural development in the course of his spiritual journey. “I began to think about the issues faced by gay and lesbian persons in the early 1980’s and have spent considerable time studying human sexuality in light of scripture and church teachings,” Steve explained. “I concluded early on that gay and lesbian couples should be able to ask God’s blessings on their relationships, and in my role as pastor, I have gladly offered such blessings to those who requested them.”
As one of many religious leaders in Arizona who support the freedom to marry, Pastor Holm’s convictions were reinforced by his own family experience. Steve and his wife, Cherie, have been married since 1990. Together they have six children and enjoy close and loving relationships with each. When Cherie’s daughter, Sheila, came out to the Holm’s many years ago, they were happy to support her in her journey.
Their support for Sheila has been constant and unconditional. In 2013, Pastor Holm officiated at Sheila’s wedding to her wife Sue at the Phoenix botanical gardens. “We rejoiced to be able to celebrate their union together in the presence of family and friends and to take a leadership role in the ceremony. It was so good for them to receive such encouragement and affirmation in an atmosphere of joy and love.”
Having the support of community, Pastor Holm believes, is vital to the success of any marriage. “When marriages are strong and thriving, the whole community benefits. When marriages break down, we all suffer. That’s why we invite community to weddings. Everyone has a stake in the success of the marriage. It’s not just a private matter between two individuals,” Pastor Holm explained. “For me then, the whole issue of same-sex marriage goes beyond the assurance of certain legal rights for gay and lesbian couples. It has everything to do with the strength and stability of community. Relationships are difficult in the best of circumstances. How good it will be when all gay and lesbian persons can be encouraged and supported in their love relationships with the prayers and blessings of the whole community!”
Supporters of the freedom to marry in Arizona, like Pastor Holm, are essential in moving the conversation forward. Sharing our experiences of how same-sex couples are a part of our communities at home here in Arizona is the first step in making progress.
As Arizonans continue to discuss and consider marriage for same-sex couples, Pastor Holm is confident that attitudes are changing for the better.
“Folks are beginning to see and experience same-sex couples in their neighborhoods and communities, and their attitudes and convictions are changing!” Pastor Holm explained. “While I wish that same-sex marriage was legal now, I’m optimistic that Arizona will follow the lead of other states in the not-too-distant future and pass the needed legislation.”