Clergy's Open Letter on Same-Sex Unions

USA TODAY, November 2004 | Go to article overview

Clergy's Open Letter on Same-Sex Unions


Although the Federal Marriage Amendment already has been defeated in both the Senate and House, the debate continues. As such, a coalition of faith leaders has released an Open Letter in support of marriage equality. Functioning under the umbrella of the New York-based 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 couples.

"We were called to join the public discussion on marriage equality," declares Rev. 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 10 denominations now permitting their clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, the Religious Institute's letter represents what it maintains is 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," stresses Rev. Marvin Ellison, who teaches Christian social ethics at Bangor (Me.) 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. …

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