As we get closer to Election Day, and as marriage equality hangs in the balance in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, and Washington, we turn to voices we trust.
It’s well known that there is religious opposition to marriage equality. The Roman Catholic hierarchy has been leading the charge in all four states to promote inequality. Several evangelical leaders have also been activists against marriage equality. However, more and more pro-LGBT voices of faith are leading the charge to pass marriage referenda, or at least stop the march of discrimination.
It has been well documented that despite the activism of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, actual Catholics are the most pro-LGBT people of any Christian denomination. And nowhere has that distinction been starker than during this campaign. Much (electronic and real) ink has been spilled trying to describe the Catholic voting bloc. In Maryland, one strong voice has been the leadership of New Ways Ministry. We have previously highlighted Sister Jeannine Gramick’s strong words while the Maryland legislature was passing the marriage equality. In the time since the issue was put on the ballot the whole organization has been writing, promoting, speaking, and leading Maryland Catholics to vote FOR Question 6. The other powerful faith voice for marriage equality comes from African-American faith leaders. NoWedge2012 is a campaign to reach out to African-American faith leaders who are supportive of marriage equality, or on the fence. The campaign has lifted up Black faith leaders like the Revs. Candy Holmes and Darlene Garner.
Another national figure, whose influence is felt most strongly in the debate over the Minnesota anti-marriage equality amendment, is Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, who is a retired bishop of Minnesota and the first Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Last month, Bishop Chilstrom wrote an open letter in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, calling out the anti-LGBT activism of his Roman Catholic colleague, Archbishop John Nienstedt. Bishop Chilstrom has the ability to speak to Archbishop Nienstedt in a way that many of us cannot. They are contemporaries, or as Bishop Chilstrom put it, they “(stand) on level ground.” Bishop Chilstrom, and his wife Rev. Corrine, have also been featured in a last-minute push video for Minnesotans United for All Families, urging people to vote NO.
A broad coalition of faith leaders in Washington State has been vocal in promoting marriage equality. Revs. Darrell and Marshan Goodwin-Moultry, a gay clergy couple, have become the face of LGBT African-American Christians. Rev. J. Manny Santiago linked the unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act to his state's own struggle to recognize committed, loving couples. All of these faith leaders are asking Washingtonians to vote to APPROVE Referendum 74. Meanwhile, Rev. Monica Cosaro was featured on CBS Sunday Morning in August for her support for marriage equality.
The campaign in Maine has been guided by the work of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination (RCAD), an interfaith of faith leaders who has been speaking out strongly in support of Question One. Marvin Ellison is a Christian ethics teacher and member of RCAD, who has spoken and written publically about his support for marriage equality. Additionally, Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of neighboring New Hampshire, has made appearances in Maine, along with his film, Love Free or Die. The entire coalition is asking people to vote YES on Question 1.
This year’s election cycle has certainly not been one in which religion is only on the anti-equality side. More and more, campaigns and advocates are listening to and promoting pro-LGBT religious voices. It is possible that this year, we may finally win marriage equality at the ballot box, in no small part to the voices of faith that call for fairness and equality under the law.
Do your part to help ensure marriage equality by visiting www.glaad.org/vote and learning how you can help voters in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, and Washington ensure marriage equality, as well as how to ensure that thousands of transgender Americans can protect their vote.