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How Online Ordination Facilitates Marriage Equality in Rural America

Published Friday, Nov. 15th, 2019

People in Tennessee line up to get ordained in person after the state passed a law against online ordination

It’s been more than half a century since we put a man on the moon, but in some parts of the US, same-sex and interracial couples are still routinely discriminated against. It’s also un-American.  That’s why months after getting ordained by American Marriage Ministries, Tim Hooker found himself in demand to officiate weddings for couples that were turned away by mainstream churches in his area.


I visited Tim earlier this year to talk about his experiences. Driving into Cleveland Tennessee, the first thing I noticed was that there were a lot of churches. It seemed like there was one on every corner, but they weren’t of much use to same-sex or interracial couples looking to tie the knot.


“In Southern Appalachia, the ministers probably weren’t going to do it,” Tim said. 



AMM minister and wedding officiant Tim Hooker talks about serving the LGBTQ community in rural Tennessee



At the time of the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Tim could only recall two churches that joined LGBTQ couples in marriage. If churches refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages, these couples by law deserve the same access to ministers that share their values and come from their communities. That’s where we come in. 


Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Tim has officiated more than 50 same-sex weddings. Across the state of Tennessee, thousands more of our ministers are undertaking this same service to their communities. 


“This is something that has hit a nerve. I found something that I hadn’t planned at being good at,” Tim said. But he sure was good and the calls kept coming from more couples that heard about what he was doing!


Tim’s story underscores why the right to online-ordination is crucial for millions of couples across the country. With Tennessee lawmakers attempting to legislate online-ordained ministers out of the wedding space, marriage equality is once again under threat. Tennessee’s lawmakers are attempting to deny same-sex couples the same privileges that heterosexual couples enjoy. 


We can’t allow that to happen!


Stay tuned to this blog to see how you can support American Marriage Ministries and ministers like Tim who are on the front lines of social justice and equality.



Updated March 29, 2021 - Recent articles linked below.





Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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