Today, March 6, nearly 2,000 religious leaders urged the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of the freedom to marry in an amicus, or “friend-of-the-court,” brief (click here to read the brief).
The Religious Institute partnered with Freedom to Marry to engage religious leaders on this historic case, and our joint efforts garnered nearly 2,000 signatures from religious leaders across faith traditions, geographic locations, and political opinions. The faith community boldly joined together in this historic brief. The brief also draws from the Religious Institute’s Open Letter on Marriage Equality and Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.
The brief recognizes that many religious communities have evolved to embrace the freedom to marry for same sex couples and that religious freedom requires that no one particular religious perspective on marriage be privileged in the civil definition of marriage:
The American religious landscape is vast and diverse. Religious adherents differ on contentious issues, and religious bodies have themselves evolved and disagreed over time—on marriage as well as other civil rights and social issues. In view of that history and the wide range of modern religious thought on same-sex unions, it would be a mistake to elevate any one view on marriage above all others as “the religious” view. Indeed, it would be constitutionally inappropriate, because civil marriage is a secular institution, see Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 210 (1888), and the Constitution bars the government from favoring certain religious views over others, see Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 (1982). Religious freedom means that, while all voices may contribute to our national conversation, particular religious perspectives on marriage can neither be privileged nor permitted to control the civil definition of marriage for all.
The signers include: Daayiee Abdullah, MECCA Institute; Dr. Michael Adee, Global Faith and Justice Project; Lindsay Andreolli-Comstock, The Beatitudes Society; Bishop James Arends, La Crosse Area Synod (ELCA); Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College; Matt Berryman, Reconciling Ministries Network; Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, Latino Project – Claremont; Richard Cizik, The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church; Frederick Davie, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York; Ronald Degges, Disciples Home Missions; Dr. David Gushee, Mercer University; Rev. Debra Haffner, Religious Institute; Trace Haythorn, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education; Alice Hunt, Chicago Theological Seminary; Mary E. Hunt, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual; Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York; David Key, Emory University; Rev. Harry Knox, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald, San Francisco Theological Seminary; Rev. Rodney McKenzie, National LGBTQ Task Force; Rosemary Bray McNatt, Starr King School for the Ministry; Alex McNeill, More Light Presbyterians; Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association; Timothy Murphy, Progressive Christians Uniting; Stephen Bulter Murray, Ecumenical Theological Seminary; Gail O’Day, Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Alton Pollard III, Howard University School of Divinity; Katherine Ragsdale, Episcopal Divinity School; Gregory Sterling, Yale Divinity School, Emilie Townes, Vanderbilt Divinity School, David Vasquez-Levy, Pacific School of Religion; C.T. Vivian; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center; Newell Williams, Brite Divinity School; Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Metropolitan Community Churches; and numerous Episcopal, ELCA, and United Methodist bishops.
The Religious Institute is proud to be a part of this historic brief and to be among so many bold religious leaders committed to sexual justice. This brief was submitted just as the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear oral arguments in the marriage cases from four states on April 28, in one consolidated two and a half hour hearing.
From April 24-26, 2015, the weekend preceding oral arguments, the Religious Institute is calling for a National Prayer Weekend for the Freedom to Marry. More information to come!