Faith Leaders Speak Out: Statements of Support from Individuals and National Leaders

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INDIVIDUALS (alphabetically by faith)



American Baptist

    Rev. C. Irving Cummings, Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Cambridge, MA
    "I and my congregation believe that this is a matter of individual equality and religious liberty. We have supported marriage for same-sex couples for nearly two decades. We perform religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples because we believe that their love and commitment should be celebrated and respected equally. These ceremonies, however, do not have legal standing. We believe that same-sex couples should be treated equally in the eyes of the law, as well as the eyes of our congregation."

    Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Riverside Church, New York, NY
    "Our faith calls us to pledge ourselves to education and action for peace and justice — the realization of the vision of the heavenly banquet where all are loved and blessed. That justice calls us to support equal treatment of same-sex couples."

    Rev. Jim Maynard, Chaplain, Salem State College, Salem, MA
    "I believe that faith at its best lifts up the inherent human worth of all people. I have performed many ceremonies and signed many legal marriage certificates in the last 15 years of ordained ministry; I believe that same-sex couples deserve to have that same legal right."

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    The Rt. Rev. John Palmer Croneberger, Ninth Bishop of Newark
    The Episcopal address for the 128th Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Newark
    Speech entitled "A Vision of the Diocese as Sacrament"
    Friday, January 25, 2002

    "Not long ago I was privileged to officiate at the blessing of a union between two women here in the diocese. After checking the canons on marriage and the prayer book service and rubrics for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, I could find only two significant differences between the canonical/prayer book/rubrics piece, and the service of blessing at which I officiated: the description of marriage as a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman; and that the marriage conform to the laws of the state and the canons of this church. I think it is time to eliminate those differences. Marriage is a solemn and public covenant between two people. Sometimes those two people will be of the same sex. In my view, it makes it no less a marriage, and we need to be able to call it what in fact it is — a marriage. In order to make this happen, we will need to confront our canons and rubrics, seeking to make the changes needed to accomplish this goal. It will also mean taking our concerns to state governments, seeking amendment to laws regarding marriage. YOU SEE, WORDS DO HAVE POWER — power to heal and make whole, and power to hurt and wound and destroy. We choose each day how we will use our words. For some it will take some adjusting."

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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    Rev. Robert O. Kriesat, Pastor, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Chatham, NJ
    "The right of the state to regulate and recognize civil marriages is taken for granted. The fact that some people are left out of such recognition is not often realized. I firmly support the right of gay and lesbian people who live in committed relationships to be able to be married and have those marriages recognized by the state. Such recognition and the rights that go along with such marriages is, in my opinion, a simple question of civil justice.

    "While I realize that religious institutions, my own included, may not at this time, see fit to marry or to bless such same-gender relationships, the state should not prevent such a marriage. I choose to add my 'religious' voice to the call for full and equal rights for all people, including gay and lesbian people, under the law.

    "Rather than weakening the family unit and the values that are inherent in them, such marriages will add a new and needed dimension to the understanding of 'family.' Gay and lesbian people highly value the family unit and being granted the right to a legal marriage would underscore such a value. Now is not the time to tear families apart, but to work to bring them together."

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Reconstructionist Judaism

    Rabbi Amy J. Small, Congregation Beth Hatikvah, Chatham, NJ
    "The Jewish tradition teaches us the importance of justice and compassion, both values that we take to heart in formulating our position concerning homosexuality in contemporary Judaism. We must have compassion for the position of gays and lesbians in our social structures — they have suffered too much discrimination for too long. Our sense of justice compels us to correct the discriminatory laws of our society and create a society more fully reflective of the equal rights we value as Americans. It is time for New Jersey to serve our gay and lesbian population by adopting a law permitting state recognized civil marriages."

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    Rabbi Kenneth Brickman, Temple Beth El, Jersey City
    "The Reform Movement within the Jewish Community has been in the vanguard of many civil rights issues, including most recently its 'support for the full recognition of equality for lesbians and gays in society.' Our rabbinical organization, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and our national lay body, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, have both passed resolutions supporting the legalization of civil marriage for gay men and lesbians. They have done so in the hope that the right to a civil marriage would end discrimination in areas such as health insurance, visitation rights in hospitals and nursing homes, and the status of same-sex couples in inheritance matters. Furthermore, the position taken by the Reform Movement is a recognition that discrimination against any group within our society is contrary to the prophetic ideal set forth in our sacred scripture.

    "Perhaps, equally as important as the legal protections that legalized marriage would provide same-sex couples will be the public recognition that relationships between people of the same gender are no less valid than heterosexual relationships. The irony in the position of those who oppose legalized marriage for same-sex couples is that they claim that these relationships either are not monogamous or do not last. Yet, when same-sex couples who have been together for many years seek to have their relationships legally recognized, these same people seek to deny them that right.

    "It is most important for clergy and religious communities to be in the forefront of the campaign for legalization of civil marriage for same-sex couples. Often religious texts are quoted and presented as evidence not only in opposition to same-sex marriage, but also in opposition to any effort which seeks to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians. As a Reform Rabbi, I respect the scriptural texts, which form the basis of my faith tradition; however, I view those texts as having a vote but not a veto in determining contemporary religious standards and attitudes. I also recognize the fact that the biblical perspective on relationships between people of the same sex was completely different than our contemporary perspective, and therefore should not be used as the basis for setting policies today. The behaviors described in biblical texts were not long-term loving relationships based on equality and mutual respect, of the type which are common today.

    "The Reform Movement welcomes lesbians and gay men into our synagogues. Our seminary ordains and our congregations hire gay and lesbian rabbis and cantors. Our movement has called for the state to recognize gay and lesbian marriages and families. We do this based on our understanding that all people are created 'b'tzelem Elohim,' in the image of God, and are therefore endowed with the same divine essence and entitled to have the same rights within society. My participation in the New Jersey Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry is a logical extension of my denomination's support to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples and my own personal commitment to creating a society in which gay men and lesbians will no longer experience discrimination."

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Religious Sociey of Friends

    New Brunswick Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, New Brunswick, NJ
    "Because we consider marriage to be a basic human right, we believe that the State...should join same-gender couples in civil marriage to the same extent that the State is willing to join men and women in civil marriage. The State should provide rights and responsibilities to such couples equal to those of any other married couples."

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Unitarian Universalist Association

    Rev. Suzanne Henshaw, Community Minister, First Unitarian Fellowship of Hunterdon County, Baptistown
    "Living a full and rich life for many of us includes going through it all with a committed partner, someone 'to come home to' in every sense of the word. Life is full of joys, disappointments, challenges, successes, failures, pain and sorrow. And it is also full of the ordinary and the mundane. Sharing all of it with another person for many people enriches the ordinary as well as the extraordinary which life has to offer.

    "None of this is dependent on a person's sexual orientation. We all go through life in one way or another and sharing it with another person brings many people joy that a single life would not. If you happen to be heterosexual, your union to that other person who is sharing your life is licensed by the state. If you are homosexual and share this life with another, as many committed men and women already do, your union is not recognized by the state. Thus you are denied the privileges and the status of a married couple.

    "This is unfair to those people who wish to take that leap of faith into marriage, a lifelong commitment, but happen to be gay or lesbian. The rather simple solution to this would be to legalize same-sex unions in New Jersey."

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United Methodist

    Rev. Dr. Chaudoin Callaway, New Jersey
    "I see Jesus as inclusive — accepting and inviting all to eat at his table. I believe that this intent calls upon us all to accept people of all sexual orientations with the full complement of social and civil implications. Same-sex couples should be invited to the table of equal rights in society, including the choice to have a civil marriage."

    Rev. Lisanne Finston, Elijah's Promise, New Brunswick, NJ
    "The word 'church' is derived from the Greek word "ekklesia," which means literally the 'called out ones.' As people who support the health and well-being of families, and communities, we are 'called out' to insure that all families, including same-sex couples, have access to housing and job security, health insurance and all of the means to live loving and productive lives. Equal rights and protections under the law for same-sex couples is a justice issue for all families, including the church."

    Rev. Dr. Traci C. West, New Jersey
    "It is at the times when people are most vulnerable, like when you need to be at the hospital bedside of your partner or when settling legal matters right after her or his death, that the discrimination tends to hit same-sex couples the hardest. I support marriage equality for same-sex couples because of my commitment to Jesus Christ. I am led by Christ's calling to help build a more just and compassionate society specifically by seeking out those who are vulnerable or considered 'outsiders' and making sure that they are no longer treated like second-class members of our community."

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Unity Fellowship Church

    Reverend Kevin E. Taylor, Pastor, Unity Fellowship Church, New Brunswick
    "As long as I can remember, in my soul and in my Spirit, I have wanted to be married. Not just have a 'husband' or someone whom I could call by terms of endearment. I want to be married, with full ceremony and family present...married!

    "I remember the first time I took this desire to the Lord, in my teen-aged years, and sought guidance in my world that was just then beginning to take in the words of the world, that declared my orientation to not be of God, and was converging with an intimate relationship with the Most High, who was ONLY GOD. In my searching, I went to the Bible and found there JONATHAN AND DAVID. Many have tried to disallow this partnership as a simple friendship, but I saw the Bible's only marriage — not talk of marriage or the rules thereof, but actually ceremony. David and Jonathan stood before the eyes of God and committed to each other: Heart, Body and Soul.

    "That is why I am so committed to my GLBT communities and the right to marriage. I am committed because God's word says in Hebrews 13:4 that MARRIAGE IS HONORABLE IN ALL and in order to move my communities beyond the idea and societal construct that our relationships are purely sexual and ever-fleeting, we have to know, from God's word, that we are able to cement our love, before God and family. I am working diligently — through counseling, conversation and commitment — to marry as much of my congregation as desires to do so. For later in that same scripture, God's word says, "SO THAT WE MAY BOLDLY SAY, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, AND I WILL NOT FEAR WHAT MAN SHALL DO UNTO ME." I stand on the Promise of God that love matters, no matter the skin-color, location or orientation and that love, in order to remain strong and blessed, and ordained in Spirit, must be brought to God and declared.

    "As I began to grow in my ministry, in my late 20s, God came to me and promised that at age 37, I would meet my bethrothed and we would journey a lifetime together. As I celebrated my 37th birthday last September, I wait for God's manifestation, believing, trusting and knowing that when the appointed day comes, my marriage will be blessed, in the eyes of God first, and hopefully by then, the laws of the land."

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Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches

    Rev. Mel White, Soulforce (, Metropolitan Community Church
    "There are gays and lesbians in your congregation who want to share in all the benefits and responsibilities of a legal marriage. Any American who wants to be married should have that right. It's a matter of justice."

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Rev. Herbert W. Chilstrom, Retired Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    "I have many good, responsible friends who happen to be gay and lesbian. I believe all of them deserve all of the rights and privileges we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America, including civil marriage to those in committed relationships."

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Episcopal: Diocese of Newark, 129th Annual Convention
Resolution in Support for Same Gender Couples, January 25, 2003

    "RESOLVED, That this 129th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark calls upon the State of New Jersey to affirm the rights of same-gender couples who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitment of civil marriage; and, be it further

    "RESOLVED, That this Convention conveys its admiration, support, encouragement and prayers to seven same-gender couples who have filed suit against the State of New Jersey for the right to marry, among them members of our diocese, Cindy Meneghin and Maureen Kilian (together with their children Josh and Sarah Kilian-Meneghin), and Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow, and Sarah and Suyin Leal (together with their daughter Zenzali); and, be it further

    "RESOLVED, That the Secretary of Convention advise the Office of the Governor, The Justices of the Supreme Court, the leadership of the State Senate and Assembly, the Lambda Legal Education and Defense Fund, and the seven plaintiff couples, the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies of this resolution."

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Reform Judaism: Central Conference of American Rabbis on Gay and Lesbian Marriage
March 29, 1996

    "...BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis support the right of gay and lesbian couples to share fully and equally in the rights of civil marriage, and

    "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR oppose governmental efforts to ban gay and lesbian marriage.

    "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this is a matter of civil law, and is separate from the question of rabbinic officiation at such marriages."

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Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly
In Support of the Right to Marry for Same-Sex Couples
Adopted June 25, 1996

    "BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person; and...

    "WHEREAS the Unitarian Universalists Association Board of Trustees and the Unitarian Universalists Ministers Association have voted their support for the right to marry for same-sex couples...

    "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1996 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association adopts a position of support of legal recognition for marriage between members of the same sex...."

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United Church of Christ, Office for Church in Society
Resolution on Equal Marriage Rights for Same-Sex Couples, 1996

    "Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ Office for Church in Society affirms equal marriage rights for same sex couples...

    "Further affirms equal access to the basic rights, institutional protections and quality of life conferred by the recognition of marriage..."

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