BANGOR, Maine — When the Rev. Becky Gunn was hired by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor six years ago, she had one thing in common with one of her predecessors who had served the Park Street church in the mid-19th century.
Gunn, like the Rev. Amory Battles when he was hired in 1851, did not perform weddings.
Battles did not perform weddings until after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862, because to be licensed by the state to marry couples, he had to swear an allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, which sanctioned slavery.
On the other hand, Gunn refused to officiate at any marriage ceremonies until same-sex couples were given the legal right to marry in Maine.
When she was interviewed for the job, Gunn told the hiring committee: “I would not marry anyone until I could marry everyone.”
Gunn, 66, retired June 30, just one month shy of her starting date of Aug. 1, 2008. She said in mid-June that health issues were the reason for retirement, and she planned to return to the West Coast, where she has lived most of her adult life.
“I’m no longer able to give the 110 percent required for ministry,” she said.
In assessing her impact on the church and the community, Gunn said she would like to be remembered for her very public role in the campaigns for same-sex marriage in 2009 and 2012.
“Those were intense times, and I think my leadership was important,” Gunn said. “When we ultimately passed the law — to be able to have all people marry — it was so wonderful for me.”
Her only disappointment was that since voters approved same-sex marriage in November 2012, she only performed about a dozen weddings.
“Not as many as I’d hoped,” she said.
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