Religious Leaders Support Gay Marriage

Well, give them credit where it’s due. A number of religious leaders in New Jersey are fully in support of equal marriage and they are even offering to perform gay marriage in their churches.

In a letter to state government officials, 120 clergy members from 19 faiths and denominations want marriage equality to be voted on in the current legislative session.

In our nation founded on the separation of church and state, the State of New Jersey should not be in the business of telling faiths and clergy whom we can or cannot legally marry. We take issue with the State’s current marriage law, which is not religiously neutral but reflects the beliefs of leaders of a particular faith community which opposes marriage equality.

There cannot be a better guarantor of religious freedom than the version of the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act now before you.

We are proud that our nation has never allowed any one religious doctrine to determine secular law. New Jersey law provides for divorce, for example, though some find divorce religiously impermissible. Indeed, the idea of New Jersey’s banning civil divorce would be unthinkable. Our state would not stand for favoring the convictions of any one religion over another.

If only other religious voices would join them…

(via Pam’s House Blend)

  • http://negativentropy.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Gray

    Good for them! I applaud all 120 of them. Let’s hope this spreads. :)

  • Kate

    Glad (and not surprised) to see a lot of UU ministers on there. Our former UU minister won’t sign marriage licenses at all until gay marriage is legal across the US. Here’s his article – it’s a good read!

    http://www.soulforce.org/article/670

  • http://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com Aaron

    This may be of interest to many of you… a “christian” theologian who recently put out a call to pastors to stop (legally) marrying people.

    http://blog.tonyj.net/2010/01/a-call-to-clergy-stop-performing-legal-marriages/

  • bigjohn756

    This is great! I hope these 120 signatures are sufficient to sway the NJ legislature to do what is right.

  • Caba

    Woo hoo! I’m proud of my state. I hope this paves the way for gay marriage to be legal in my state.

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com Eamon Knight

    Much though I appreciate sentiment expressed by the clergypersons, I must partially disagree with the statement. Given that legal marriage is administered by the state, the state can certainly tell “faiths and clergy [and JPs, and anyone else empowered to perform marriages] whom we can or cannot legally marry.” The clergy can perform any religious or community ceremony they wish to declare and celebrate the happy couple’s union — but they have no absolute right to be the ones who also declare the legal contract to be now in force. That is a power traditionally granted to them, and certainly a convenience to the couple (who otherwise would presumably have to see some other official, to get the state’s rubber stamp), but it should be seen as a separate act from the religious rite.

    Moreover, the state does have the proper role of deciding who is eligible to get married — eg. w.r.t age or mental incapacity. They should legalize gay marriage because it’s just fair to gays, and there seem to be no reasonable and secular objections (that’s where the church/state issue comes in). But couching this as an issue of religious freedom for the clergy is to get the logic exactly backwards.

  • Edmond

    ARRRGH!!! Why are we VOTING on this? I’m sure that MANY representatives of clergy in this country would LOVE to leave this up to the uneducated majority to decide! How many times does this need to be said? THIS SHOULD NOT BE UP FOR A VOTE!!!

    I’m driven to re-quote a quote from Christopher Hitchens in one of Hemant’s earlier posts from today:

    If someone says I’m doing this out of faith, I say, Why don’t you do it out of conviction…

    I know I should just fall down on my knees in gratitude every time a religious leader turns out to be on my side in this, but honestly, if I already think you’re crazy, then you’ll forgive me if I question your motives, and if I’m suspicious of what crazy things you’ll say NEXT, after I’ve allied myself with you.

    Clergy? Don’t care.

    NO VOTING ON HUMAN RIGHTS.

  • Daniel H.

    Can I point out that this nation was not “founded on the separation of church and state” like the petition claims? The first amendment is just that, an amendment, on a much debated Bill of Rights added to the original Constitution which actually came 13 years after the Revolution and more original Articles of Confederation.

    And Edmond, can you explain how gay sex and federal marriage benefits to those who want to monogamously and faithfully engage in it with a lifelong commitment to each other qualify as “human rights”? I’m not seeing it.

  • muggle

    Fantastic but I do agree with Edmond. It is an outrage to have civil rights up for the vote.

  • muggle

    Daniel, you need to do a little reading. Seriously.

    And, of course, it’s a human right to love who you love and be who you are.

  • Edmond

    @Daniel H.

    Maybe you don’t think the right to marry who you love regardless of gender is a human right because you’ve probably never had people try to take that right away from you, or withhold it from you.

  • Daniel H.

    I do a lot of reading. What do you want me to read?

    And muggle, let me ask the same question again slightly rephrased because you did not at all answer it:

    can you explain how gay sex and federal marriage benefits to those who want to monogamously and faithfully engage in it with a lifelong commitment to each other, understood as “being who you are” and “loving who you love”, qualify as “human rights”? I’m not seeing it.

    What on earth does “being who you are” have to do with anything? Seriel killers are being who they are. And I am not comparing seriel killing to homosexuality, I’m saying the phrase you used is mostly meaningless when it comes to law-making. And I love my sister. That does not mean the government should endorse me marrying her.

    Edmond, does this extend to marrying a dog? Some people love their dogs. Regardless of gender you say… what about number, or species, or sentience?

  • Neon Genesis

    Is there any point in debating with someone who seriously thinks homosexuality is the same as murder? And don’t try to kid us into thinking you don’t think that because it’s clear that you do when you said so yourself.

  • Daniel H.

    Is there any point in debating with someone who seriously thinks homosexuality is the same as murder? And don’t try to kid us into thinking you don’t think that because it’s clear that you do when you said so yourself.

    Actually I said that’s NOT what I’m saying.

  • Edmond

    @Neon Genesis

    There is always a point. You never know what minds you will change.

    @Daniel H

    I FEAR what kind of debate this could become. Nevertheless…

    Of COURSE this does not include a dog. What part of the word “human” is confusing you? As for “number”, I guess you’re referring to polygamy? Personally, I have no problem with it. But I can easily see the kinds of joint tax & inheritance legal problems that can arise from multi-person marriages. So while I would never advocate criminalizing co-habitation of multiple partners, I could see issues with making such marriages legal.

    But species and sentience? Are you kidding? Are these legit arguments? I already ruled out species, as we’re talking about human rights, and I personally could only approve of a relationship where all parties are consenting. And sentience? Are you imagining some amazing future where computers gain intelligence and develop love demand the right to marry humans? Or maybe if aliens come to Earth and want to marry humans? Again, are you kidding? If computers gain intelligence and become capable of love, then yes, I guess we’d have to respect their sentience, and thus, their right to love. And we’d have to redefine “human” rights as “sentient” rights. Actually, if computers gain intelligence, I’d probably be in favor of giving them anything they wanted.

    In short, I would be in favor of granting marriage rights to any two adult, consenting, non-related individuals. Regardless of gender. And in a fantastic future, regardless of species, as long as they can demonstrate sentience.

    Anyone who tells you that same-sex marriage will threaten “traditional” marriage is either lying, or doesn’t understand the issue.

  • Daniel H.

    Are you kidding? Are these legit arguments?

    No I’m not kidding. A woman in India recently “married” a snake. It was in the news.

    Why not a dog? You seem to be pontificating quite arbitrarily, and I can also do that, and whoever gets the most votes or has the biggest guns wins.

  • Edmond

    ok, so you’re not kidding, I suppose. You say you’re not, and it’s just my nature to take you at word. For now.

    I’m so happy for the woman in India. Did anyone ask the snake how it felt? This is why I’m not so sure you’re being serious. I find it hard to believe that you think this might make a legitimate argument. Snakes cannot give consent. Nor can dogs, nor any other animal or inanimate object you might name. As I stated above, I advocate marriage between two adult, consenting, non-related individuals. In the real world that we live in, they should both be humans, as those are the only beings we’re aware of that can give consent.

    Do you see nationwide movements of millions of people demanding the right to marry their snakes? Even in India? The very existence of the gay rights movement means that huge numbers of people think this is a valid concept, and that it is deserving of protection. Not everyone agrees, of course, and that’s their right, but why is it their right to force everyone else to live as they do? Why do they get to have their beliefs enshrined in law? Especially considering that allowing someone to have a same-sex marriage will not take one single thing away from their own life.

    I believe that this last statement invalidates the argument you made to Muggle. A serial killer might just be “being who they are”, but in doing so they are harming others. Who does gay marriage harm? Why the mad rush by conservatives to define it nationally as “one-man-one-woman”? Who asked them to define it for me? I’m not standing in their way to marry, but they’re standing in mine.

  • Joshua W.

    A few things for Daniel:
    This country was founded on the principle of separation of church and state as stated in Article 11 of The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary (commonly known as the Treaty of Tripoli)
    “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”
    The common thread that joins people in favor of gay marriage is that they do not think that two consenting adults (that’s two human adults, not an adult and a child, not an adult and a animal, and not, as of yet, an adult and a robot) should be denied the right to marry solely due to their sexual preference. It makes my brain hurt when “the next logical step” for opponents of gay marriage is people marrying animals. REALLY? That is where your mind goes? Is that an indication of your level of respect for human life in general, or is there something else? As for you and your sister, I for one would be willing to listen.
    How can you say that you are “not comparing seriel killing to homosexuality” when in the two sentences prior to that statement you do just that?

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Better include “not an adult and a plant”, too, just in case. Who knows what sort of union Daniel will propose next.

    The strange case of the woman and the snake was purely a religious ceremony, not recognized by the state as far as I can tell.

  • Daniel H.

    Do you see nationwide movements of millions of people demanding the right to marry their snakes

    If this is a “human rights” issue as you want to make it, numbers shouldn’t matter.

    This country was founded on the principle of separation of church and state as stated in Article 11 of The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary (commonly known as the Treaty of Tripoli)
    “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

    America was not “founded” on separation of Church and State. The first amendment is just that, an amendment, which was added to the Constitution after much debate and more than a decade after the Revolution. And the quote you give says nothing about “separation of church and state”, only that America was not founded on Christianity. It might be possible to argue it was founded on Deism. But that’s not really the point at issue. Anyway, there is no such thing as religious neutrality. Jesus is acknowledged as Lord, or not.

    How can you say that you are “not comparing seriel killing to homosexuality” when in the two sentences prior to that statement you do just that?

    Because my point was that the statement “being who you are” is irrelevant for legislation. Everyone is just being who they are. That was one of the reasons Muggle gave for calling gay marriage a “human right” and I was pointing out that it’s no reason at all because it can be said about anyone – including serial killers.

  • Edmond

    Numbers DO matter, Daniel, because PEOPLE WANT THIS. Many people. Not everyone, true, but I guarantee you that there are NO SNAKES that are fighting for this. If same-sex marriage was something that just one guy in California wanted, then maybe I could agree with you. We could just laugh it off as “that crazy guy in California!” and ignore it. But this is a movement. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it’s thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions. Huge throngs of people have marched for this, I know, I have marched with them. Who are you (or who is anyone) to tell all those people that they’re crazy, or unnatural, or immoral?

    I’m not commenting on what documents the US was founded on. I’m not a historian, I couldn’t make good arguments and support them. However, I’m a big fan of keeping church and state as separate as possible.

    And I think there’s something a little dishonest about addressing (again) what Muggle said about serial killers, while ignoring what I said. I don’t think that you’re equating gays with serial killers. Let me help everyone out with that: I don’t think that Daniel is equating gays with serial killers! I think, instead, that he is saying that he doesn’t think that the government should endorse every aspect of who people are, just because it’s who they are, since not all aspects of humanity are necessarily good, such as serial killers. But I felt I was able to show you how gays don’t fall into that category, because they are not harming people, in the way that serial killers do harm people. Killing is not a human right. Love is.

  • Daniel H.

    As far as gay “marriage” not harming anyone:

    Even if that were true I’m not sure it gets to the point. Murder hurts people very directly and is a crime. Gay “marriage” is not the same kind of criminal issue, legally it is an issue of whether the government will endorse it and provide it recognition and benefits. There is a difference between punishing criminals who hurt people (like seriel killers) on the one hand, and simply not offering support and benefit to certain behaviors on the other, whether or not they hurt anyone.

  • Matt D

    isnt NJ the state where someting like 35% of all religious people think Obama is the anti-christ? (no refernece, but sure I saw it here or Pharyngula).

    how likely is it that a “liberal” petition would count for anything before that state’s legislature?

  • Shannon

    I’m in NJ and have been rallying for this. It’s annoying that religion is playing such a big part in this fight. No, it shouldn’t matter what religion says, but it apparently does. Big time. Especially since we (I mean NJ, I didn’t vote for him) just elected a very conservative, religious guy for our next governor. It seems a lot of the legislators don’t want to look bad in his eyes, so they aren’t willing to vote for this.

    So far, the other side is 100% religious. The arguments they give, over and over, are that it’s against the bible and against their religion. So as much as it annoys me, I understand why our side is parading clergy around. We’re trying to prove that religious leaders are *not* all in agreement on this issue.

    The vote is on Thursday. If anyone here is in NJ, call your legislators every day and ask them to vote *for* this. To be blunt, it might not work at this point. Too many of them are too chicken shit to go against the incoming governor. It’s worth a shot though. And if you are in the area, we’re rallying at the state house in Trenton on Thursday around 10 am. The vote is at 2.

  • heironymous

    Daniel H -

    The burden is on you as to why two men or two women should be denied the right to marry each other. There are hundreds of reasons why Gay Marriage should be allowed and none other than plain prejudice for the negative position.

    I understand your slippery slope argument – next it might be people and snakes. (Why this shouldn’t be allowed I don’t see – is the snake likely to need to visit his/her spouse in the hospital and make life/death decisions – I digress) – But there’s a slippery slope argument the other way. If you disallow gay people to marry – next you’ll have black/white marriages questioned. Then it will be blond men and brunettes. Finally, the simple selling of ones daughter into servitude (like marriage in the good old days) might be disallowed as well.

    Please, enlighten me. Explain to me how gay marriage is wrong. Why shouldn’t this be a simple right of man?

    As to why the government should recognize/validate them. The same reason it recognizes all marriages.
    And as to your tax dollars at work – Tell me – do gay people pay taxes?

  • Daniel H.

    There is no such thing as gay marriage. Marriage is inherently a man-woman relationship, because sex is a necessary part of it, and because it’s what God established marriage to be, and because it is designed to reflect the relationship of Christ and His bride the Church. Yes, I said God, because He is the authority on this as well as on everything else. If I’m given a vote on it, I’ll vote no, but I’ll also live in the governmental system I’ve been placed in and not go to war about it. This is an issue for which repentance, not war, is in order.

    So, there it is. You asked. I know you don’t like that answer. But let me remind you I entered this thread in the first place to correct the idea that America was “founded” on the idea of separation of Church and State, and to ask how federal endorsement of sodomy can be construed as a “human right”.

  • Kate

    Marriage is inherently a man-woman relationship, because sex is a necessary part of it,

    Newsflash: gay people can have sex. ;)

    And further…what if physical limitations prevent a man and woman from having sex? Would you prefer that they not marry?

    Seriously, get a life.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I’m going to ignore Daniel here. I’m not seeing anything in his posts that we haven’t heard from a thousand godbots already. Yawn.

    But there’s something that pleases me about the letter from the clergy, apart from the fact that it supports something that I also support. So often we see only the extremists of religion speaking out, getting the attention, and making the news. When we talk to more moderate theists, they say “Well, of course, not all of us are like that. Most of us are reasonable people who don’t want to control every aspect of your lives.” My answer to them is that when they allow the zealots to spew their craziness unchallenged, and give them a free pass to rant because of their faith, they are acting as enablers to that kind of behavior. Their silence allows the right wing to pretend that they speak for all xians. It’s important that the religious center and left take a public stand against the would-be theocrats of the right. This letter is exactly what I love to see them doing, and what we need to see more of.

    Bravo, clergy of New Jersey! Tell the Fundies where they can stick it! Stand up against bigotry and hate! Pull out those bible verses about “judge not” and “love thy neighbor” and “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” and let ‘em have it! This infidel thinks your letter is terrific, and would like to see lots more letters like it.

  • AxeGrrl

    Edmond wrote:

    Anyone who tells you that same-sex marriage will threaten “traditional” marriage is either lying, or doesn’t understand the issue.

    Exactly. Awhile ago, I saw this great quote by someone on another message board:

    “Any ‘suffering’ the majority endures owing to the acknowledgement of other’s rights to equal treatment exists purely in their minds.”

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    Good to see that not all religious people are bigoted. Of course, given the ‘top 10 list of religious persecution’ I have little faith that Christians are any closer to realizing ‘oh yeah, we should probably treat people like Jesus told us we should.’

    And, @Daniel H: Check your fallacies at the door. Your slippery slope is showing.

    There is no reason that a gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed. It’s entirely religious bigotry. I feel completely ashamed that we allow the denial of human rights to a whole fleet of persons because some Christian people are squicked out about it.

    And it shames me more that I used to be on that end of the spectrum. I will never forgive myself for how I treated a lesbian girl I knew online. I don’t know where she is anymore, but if I ever had the chance to talk to her again, I would apologize profusely. I made her cry! I don’t make anyone cry, but I did it to her because I was a bigot.

    Thank science I’ve turned away from that idiot religion.

  • Jennifer

    Well put Edmond!

  • muggle

    Jesus is acknowledged as Lord, or not.

    Not in the freaking Constitution, he’s not. So next argument?

    “God” law? Okay, once again show me that in the Constitution? Jesus aside since we’ve already established that he’s not acknowledged as Lord therein, point me to the line that says that God’s law is the basis of the Constitution? What? Not there? But that pesky little amendment is? Hmm, how about that? An amendment is. There.

    Next you’ll be telling me that this country wasn’t based on blacks or women having the right to vote. Should we fight against their doing so. Hell, the nerve of me voting. I’m a woman who doesn’t own property.

    Love how you only focused on one half of what I said makes gay marriage a human right. Okay, let’s take my passionate being who you are out of there and just deal with my also passionate loving who you love. Oh, that’s right. All you’ve got on that is Gawd’s law. See above.

    I’m not even going to address the absurdity of snakes and sisters (though I am wondering about your sis and you at this point) and robots and such. Of course, I don’t believe in talking snakes.


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