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National Religious Leadership Roundtable responds to Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality

June 27, 2013

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, responded to the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality based on the cases that challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Responses from National Religious Leadership Roundtable Members

Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, Faith Work Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
“As a Christian, I often find myself in that paradoxical place between crucifixion and resurrection– between that which seeks to destroy life and that which seeks to transform and renew.  I find myself in that in-between place today. My daughter is jumping for joy that her family is finally recognized by her country. Her joy brings tears to my eyes… these Supreme Court decisions are deeply personal for me, even as I have worked professionally for marriage equality for the past decade. But our joy is informed by our grief for the ways in which our country has taken a major step backwards in protecting the fundamental American value of access to the voting booth, has chipped away at affirmative action and protections for First Nations peoples.

“My understanding of the Christian gospel is that ‘for freedom, Christ has set you free.’ It is my prayer that those of us who have been freed to love and honor and commit to our beloveds may use our freedom to struggle for the freedom and dignity of all persons.”

Ani Zonneveld, Co-founder & President, Muslims for Progressive Values:
“We at Muslims for Progressive Values are thrilled in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the definition of marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. The Quran defines marriage as the union of two souls. We congratulate the Supreme Court for affirming the universal values of justice and equality for all and in its decision to dismiss the appeal of Proposition 8.”

Idit Klein, Executive Director, Keshet:
“Two years ago this summer, I stood under a chuppah (marriage canopy) with my wife. Because we live in Massachusetts, we are ‘lucky’ that our relationship is recognized by our state. However, under the current law, we are denied more than 1,138 federal rights that our straight friends are automatically granted when they wed.

“The overwhelming majority of American Jews support equal marriage (81 percent, 2012 Public Religion Research Institute) and we deeply hope the Supreme Court rules on the side of fairness and equality. Our ancient Jewish values teach us that we all are created B’tzelem Elohim (in God’s Image) and our current laws violate this sacred principle by refusing to recognize and protect same-sex relationships.

“I hope this anniversary I can celebrate not only our relationship, but the hundreds of thousands of other LGBT Americans who will be able to access this fundamental right.”

Katharine Henderson, President, Auburn Theological Seminary:
“My faith says that all persons are beloved by God and created in God’s image. A growing multifaith movement of religious leaders from various traditions is helping the faithful understand how religious teachings and text compel acceptance of LGBT people, not rejection. God’s love will prevail over prejudice and fear.”

Imam Daayiee Abdullah, Director of LGBTQ Outreach, Muslims for Progressive Values and Light of Reform Mosque:
“It is exciting the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the human rights of LGBT people in their Prop 8/DOMA. By doing so, SCOTUS respects the human dignity of all people of this nation regardless of their religious or non-religious affiliation. America prospers from this decision.”

Rev. Debra W. Haffner, President, Religious Institute:
“As religious leaders, we celebrate the Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality and that the Defense of Marriage Act has been declared unconstitutional.

“The faiths we affirm challenge us to speak and act for justice for all who seek to express their love in the commitment of marriage.  We find support for marriage equality in our scriptures and our traditions in their overriding messages about love, justice, and inclusion of the marginalized. Many religious traditions already perform marriages for same-sex couples; at least a dozen Christian denominations and Jewish movements, allow their clergy to perform marriage or union ceremonies for same-sex couples.  As religious leaders, we affirm that persons of all sexual orientations should have the right to civil marriage and its benefits.  As our traditions affirm, where there is love, the sacred is in our midst.

“The United States is one of the most diverse religious countries in the world. We affirm that religious denominations must have the right to discern who is eligible for marriage in their own tradition. In addition, all clergy should be free to solemnize marriages without state interference based on their own traditions and conscience. Same sex couples in every state must have the right to legal marriage.

“We join with millions of people of faith in celebrating today. We pledge to continue our work for marriage equality and relational justice for all.”

Dr. Sharon Groves, Director of Religion & Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign:
“For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Galatians 5:15. This line from Galatians will be the subject of many Christian sermons this Sunday.

“In light of yesterday’s historic Supreme Court decisions I think it is worth asking with renewed vigor, ‘What does it mean to love your neighbor?’ and ‘Are we loving better now?’

“If Dr. Cornell West is right, that ‘justice is what love looks like in public,’ then how do we read the recent decisions?

“Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court ruled to return marriage equality to California and to strike down DOMA.

“This is an amazing victory for which many have dedicated their lives and their livelihood, including people of faith. For this work, we are all in a better place today. It seems we are learning to love better.

“Yet as HRC’s President, Chad Griffin pointed out, ‘These decisions underscore the emergence of two Americas. In one, LGBT citizens are nearing full equality. In the other, our community lacks even the most basic protections.’

“What are the barriers of geography in our capacity to love? This week, the Supreme Court moved backwards and struck down a key provision of the voting rights act that effectively strips away at Civil Right protections at the ballot box. It seems that while we are growing to accept LGBT people as part of our community, we are reneging on our commitment to Civil Rights in the voting box for those marginalized because of race.  What are the barriers of race in our capacity to love?

“As we celebrate today, let us also hold each other in the deeper struggle for a truly expansive love that can embrace all of us regardless of race, income, sexual orientation, gender identity and geography. Let this monumental victories compel us to deeper work of eradicating all barriers to love.”

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