Coalition of Faith Leaders and
Theologians Declare Religious Support for Same-Sex
Marriage as Congress Prepares to Debate Anti-Gay
Federal Marriage Amendment
Open Letter from diverse group
of religious leaders urges people of faith
to support equal access to marriage for all
(New York, NY) - As Congress prepares to vote
on the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would
alter the Constitution to deny same-sex couples
access to civil marriage, an unprecedented,
diverse and high-profile coalition of faith
leaders has released a powerful Open Letter
in support of marriage equality for same-sex
couples. Functioning under the umbrella nonprofit
organization Religious Institute on Sexual
Morality, Justice, and Healing, the authors
publicly affirmed a broad, faith-based rationale
for supporting marriage equality for same-sex
"We were called to join the public discussion
on marriage equality," said the Reverend
Debra W. Haffner, director of the Religious
Institute. "America needs to know that
many faith leaders and theologians from diverse
religious traditions strongly believe that
all people have a God-given right to lead lives
which fully express love, mutuality and commitment-including
the right to marry."
With more than ten denominations now permitting
their clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies,
the Religious Institute's Open Letter represents
a growing consensus of faith-based support
for full inclusion of gay and lesbian couples
in civil and religious marriage.
"We refute those who would use selected
verses of scripture to condemn the marriage
of gay and lesbian people," said the Reverend
Dr. Marvin Ellison who teaches Christian social
ethics at Bangor Theological Seminary. "Contrary
to this distortion of religious tradition,
the overall message of the Bible neither commends
a single marriage model nor commands all to
marry, but rather calls for love and justice
in all relationships."
The Open Letter challenges those who use their
religion to justify discrimination on the basis
of sexual orientation. Stating that the civil
and religious values of marriage should be
available to all people, the authors ask religious
and civic leaders to promote good marriages
based on responsibility, equity, and love,
without restrictions based on the biological
sex, procreative potential, or sexual orientation
of the partners.
The Open Letter was developed at a colloquium
of theologians sponsored by the Religious Institute
and funded by Freedom to Marry.
"Throughout our nation's history, faith
leaders have been found on both sides of civil
rights debates, some calling our nation to
equality and healing while others preach fear
and division and appeal to the worst in their
fellow human beings," said Evan Wolfson,
executive director of Freedom to Marry. "The
clergy signing this Open Letter affirm that
it is immoral to discriminate in the right
to marry, unjust to deny committed couples
a legal commitment to protect their families,
and uncharitable to remain silent in the face
of assaults on gay people's common humanity."
Signing authors of the Open Letter represent
theologians and ordained clergy from a broad
range of diverse religious perspectives including
Jewish, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Brethren,
Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, United
Methodist and Unitarian Universalist traditions.
The creators of the Open Letter are Rabbi Dr.
Rebecca Alpert, Temple University; the Rev.
Steve Clapp, Christian Community; the Rev.
Marvin Ellison, Bangor Theological Seminary;
the Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield, Protestants
for the Common Good; the Rev. Debra W. Haffner,
Religious Institute; Dr. Mary Hunt, WATER;
the Rev. Barbara Lundblad, Union Theological
Seminary; the Rev. Michael Schuenemyer, United
Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries; and
the Rev. Traci West, Drew University.
The Religious Institute is an ecumenical, interfaith
organization dedicated to advocating for sexual
health, education, and justice in faith communities
and society. More than 2250 religious leaders
from more than 35 faith traditions endorse
its Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality,
Justice and Healing.
FULL TEXT OF
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