In the wake of Tuesday’s Ninth Circuit Court decision affirming the ruling that Prop 8 was in violation of the federal constitution, a number of religious and faith groups issued statements in support of the decision. The court decision was clearly a legal decision. However, the case, and the overall issue of marriage equality, is set amidst the backdrop of the relationship between LGBT people and communities of faith.
A variety of faith-based groups issued statements praising the court’s decision. These organizations are working toward the full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the church, but also recognize that their vocation calls them to work for the full participation in society as well.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has given freedom to its congregations to bless gay and lesbian couples for many years now. Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, UCC executive for LGBT concerns, “Same-sex couples should have the right to marry because it is the only way to honor religious liberty. Many of our United Church of Christ pastors and congregations perform religious marriage rites for same-sex couples, and do so out of their theological convictions.”
Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, gave a more personal testimony, “How could there be any other outcome? We have been a family for 28 years, loving each other, raising children, paying taxes, enduring illness, experiencing and celebrating life and worshipping God. I am thankful for families everywhere. Family is everything.”
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). The MCC is a denomination formed to meet the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Dr. Wilson reflected on the MCC history and the role it has played to help celebrate this step forward, “Since MCC's founding in 1968, we have understood that God's blessings rest upon all sacred relationships, including those between people of the same gender. We applaud and bless the wisdom of our federal judges as they protect the constitutional rights and religious freedom of all people.”
Integrity, the leading grassroots voice for full inclusion in The Episcopal Church, has called on The Episcopal Church to use its pastoral resources at this time. According to the statement, "Integrity calls upon the bishops of the six California dioceses to extend a generous pastoral response to lesbian and gay couples so that our legal rights can be celebrated in our churches and our marriages blessed by the church in the same manner afforded to our straight friends and family. This is an enormously important symbol of the Episcopal Church’s true willingness to welcome all people even those of us who are LGBT and to extend all the sacraments to all the baptized.”
Muslims for Progressive Values, who asserts that Islam is inherently progressive, inclusive and egalitarian, commended the ruling by saying, “We endorse the human and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals. We support full equality and inclusion of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in society and in the Muslim community.”
Michael Adee, Executive Director for More Light Presbyterians, stated, “Marriage equality is a pastoral care responsibility for every minister and congregation. Everyone has the right to be part of a family. We believe that love is a gift from God.”
Todd Ferrell, President of The Evangelical Network, put the ruling for marriage equality within the commandment to love, “We know that the greatest commandment is to Love our neighbor and we know that when justice is denied for one it is denied for all. We know we stand on the right side of history when Grace trumps legalism and this is one more step toward the church being what we have been called to be.”
Dr. Riess Potterveld, president of Pacific School of Religion, one of many seminaries and divinity schools that make up the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., said, “As people of faith, we respect those whose faith traditions differ from ours on the issue of same sex marriage. We invite them now to stand with us and to put aside the rancor that has divided us during this long and difficult campaign as we work together to make a better California for all families.”
Karen Barr, Moderator of the GLAD Alliance of welcoming Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations, commented, “We look forward to the day that all families will have the same legal protections, to the day that our society will recognize that all families are important and valuable, to the day that persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities are recognized as created in the image of God. We are one step closer to that vision today. Thanks be to God”
Equally Blessed, a coalition of LGBT Catholic organizations, recognized that Tuesday’s ruling still meant struggle for LGBT people ahead. “We know that same-sex couples and their families face obstacles and barriers that opposite-gender couples simply do not encounter, and pledge to raise the voice of the Catholic majority, which supports marriage equality, on their behalf.”
GLAAD applauds all the faithful organizations that call for marriage equality in California and across the country. We also call on the mainstream media to include the voices of faith from faith-based religious organizations working toward full equality for all. These voices of real people who are living out their faith are powerful in understanding the real relationship between faith and support for LGBT people.