From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Religious groups oppose Constitutional Amendment banning
Tue, 13 Jul 2004 12:02:53 -0400
United Church of Christ
Press contact: The Rev. Ron Stief, United Church of Christ Justice and
For Immediate Release
July 13, 2004
Religious leaders oppose Constitutional Amendment
banning same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON, DC -- On June 2, 2004, a broad coalition of religious leaders
released a letter to Congress opposing any amendment to the Constitution
that would ban marriage for same-sex couples. Representatives of this
group then followed the release of the joint letter with a briefing on
Capitol Hill outlining the specific religious and moral reasons behind
their opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment. This letter was
circulated again on July 12 to members of Congress.
Signatories included: Alliance of Baptists; American Friends Service
Committee (Quaker); American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League;
Central Conference of American Rabbis; Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ); Christians for Justice Action; Disciples Justice Action Network
(Disciples of Christ); Episcopal Church, USA; Friends Committee on National
Legislation (Quaker); Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (Sikh); Jewish
Reconstructionist Federation; Loretto Women's Network (LWN) (Catholic
Order); Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America; National Conference for Community and Justice;
National Council of Jewish Women; National Sikh Center; Metropolitan
Community Churches; Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office;
Protestant Justice Action; Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE);
The Interfaith Alliance; Union for Reform Judaism; Unitarian Universalist
Association of Congregations; United Church of Christ Justice and Witness
Ministries; and Women of Reform Judaism.
Here is the complete text of the letter.
"June 2, 2004
"As leaders representing many of the diverse perspectives on religion in
our nation, we are writing to urge you to oppose passage of H. J. Res.
56/S. J. Res. 26, the "Federal Marriage Amendment." Although we have
differing opinions on rights for same-sex couples, we believe the Federal
Marriage Amendment reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil
rights and ignores differences among our nation's many religious
traditions. It should be rejected.
"Few decisions by religious bodies are more central than who can take part
in important religious rituals or services, including marriage.
Fortunately, the Constitution bars any court or legislature from requiring
any religious institution or person to perform marriage ceremonies for
anyone. Indeed, the Constitution protects houses of worship in their
freedom to limit marriages on whatever theological grounds they choose. The
First Amendment already protects religious organizations from governmental
interference in such matters, and constitutional definitions of marriage
therefore are unnecessary.
"Regardless of judicial and legislative decisions defining the legal rights
of gay couples, religious marriage will justly remain the prerogative of
individual faith traditions in accordance with their doctrinal beliefs. And
this is as it should be. It is not the task of our government and elected
representatives to enshrine in our laws the religious point of view of any
one faith. Rather, our government should dedicate itself to protecting the
rights of all citizens and all faiths.
"For over two hundred years, the Constitution has had no provision on
marriage, the matter being left to the states and the teachings of various
religious groups. Our nation's founders adopted the First Amendment
precisely because they foresaw the dangers posed by allowing government to
have control over religious decisions. The religious freedom protected by
the First Amendment has allowed religious practice and pluralism to
flourish. Respecting the rights of those in the faith community who deem
sacred text consistent with the blessing of same-sex relationships protects
and ensures that freedom.
"We are particularly concerned that this proposal to amend the Constitution
would, for the first time, restrict the civil rights of millions of
Americans. That concern alone merits rejection of the Federal Marriage
Amendment. We strongly believe that Congress must continue to protect the
nation's fundamental religious freedoms and continue to protect our
nation's bedrock principle of respecting religious pluralism. Congress
should soundly reject any attempt to enshrine into the Constitution a
particular religious viewpoint on a matter of such fundamental religious
? Alliance of Baptists
? American Friends Service Committee (Quaker)
? American Jewish Committee
? Anti-Defamation League
? Central Conference of American Rabbis
? Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
? Christians for Justice Action
? Disciples Justice Action Network (Disciples of Christ)
? Episcopal Church, USA
? Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker)
? Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (Sikh)
? Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
? Loretto Women's Network (LWN) (Catholic Order)
? Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America
? National Conference for Community and Justice
? National Council of Jewish Women
? National Sikh Center
? Metropolitan Community Churches
? Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
? Protestant Justice Action
? Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE)
? The Interfaith Alliance
? Union for Reform Judaism
? Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
? United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
? Women of Reform Judaism"
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