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The Religious Case for the

FREEDOM TO MARRY What is the Freedom to Marry? Marriage is about love, commitment, and family. The Act would guarantee that all civil marriages, regardless of whether they are between opposite-sex or same-sex couples, will come with the same protections, rights, and responsibilities for the married couples and their children. Same-sex parties to a marriage and their children will be treated under Illinois law in the same way that it recognizes marriages of opposite-sex couples. Additionally, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act respects the guarantees of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, allowing free exercise of religion and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference. Marriage is about love, commitment, and family. The Illinois bill proposing marriage equality, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, would guarantee that all marriages, regardless of whether they are between opposite-sex or same-sex couples, will come with the same protections, rights, and responsibilities for the parties to the marriage and their children.

Why is Marriage Important? Gay and lesbian individuals want to get married to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families. Governments use the institution of marriage to recognize and protect family units. There are 1,138 federal rights that are inherent in marriage, most of which are unavailable to Illinois couples because this state does not have the freedom to marry. In addition, the state of Illinois affords 648 protections to married couples and their families. Some of these rights include: • Veteran spousal benefits • Ability to put the entire family, including a partner and his/her children, on one medical and/or life insurance plan • Automatic inheritance, even without a will • Privilege from testifying against a partner in court • Ability to make medical decisions for a partner in an emergency • Right to joint parenting, adoption, foster care, and visitation of children • Right to take unpaid leave from work to care for a sick partner • Ability to file joint tax returns and use tax benefits for married couples

Where is Illinois On Marriage? On January 9, 2013, Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) filed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (Senate Bill 10). The bill was quickly passed by the Senate Executive Committee and approved by the Senate by a broad bi-partisan vote on Valentine’s Day, 2013. Shortly after, the House Executive Committee approved the bill. The House adjourned its session without voting on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.



SEEKING the TRUTH Debunking Common Myths Myth:  If marriage equality is legalized, all churches and religious institutions will be forced to marry gay and lesbian couples and recognize those unions.  FACT: The marriage equality bill legalizes only civil marriage for same-sex couples. The ability for any religious institution to recognize or perform any marriage remains unchanged. Some clergy refuse to marry interfaith couples while other clergy refuse to marry a couple if one member has been divorced. No religious institution will ever be forced to marry same-sex couples or recognize same-sex couples within its belief system. Because the United States Constitution guarantees these religious freedoms, no court decision or legislative mandate can change these fundamental tenets. Myth: Illinois already has civil unions, and that law provides the same rights as marriage.  FACT: A civil union is not equal to a marriage. The institution of marriage has a long legal and cultural history, so employers, businesses, and other societal actors know how to treat married couples. This is not the case for couples in civil unions. Equality Illinois has documented numerous instances where private institutions, such as businesses, have not recognized civil unions as equal to marriage for the purpose of providing benefits. Because of the confusion over the status and rights of civil union couples, these couples are constantly unsure of how they will be treated by different people around the state. The bottom line is that the separation of civil unions and marriage into two separate institutions implies that the love and commitment same-sex couples share is less valid than that of opposite-sex couples who have the option to marry. Myth: Marriage equality changes the definition of marriage.  FACT: Allowing same-sex couples to get married does not change the definition of marriage. Marriage will remain an institution entered into by two people who love each other and seek to make a lifetime commitment to each other and protect their families. Myth: Marriage is meant for couples that can have children, and same-sex couples cannot do this.  FACT: For some couples, marriage is about parenting, and for some it is not. Many couples, oppositesex and same-sex, do not intend to ever have children, or meet and marry later in life but still seek to make a lifetime commitment through marriage. On the other hand, one in five same-sex couples are raising children. The reasons couples would like to be married are as varied for same-sex couples as they are for opposite-sex couples. For some the reasons may include children, and for others they may not.



Myth: Marriages between gays and lesbians have a negative effect on children.  FACT: Excluding same-sex couples from marriage harms children by denying them and their families the rights, protection, and sense of legitimacy that come with legal marriage. Studies consistently show that children of gay and lesbian couples are equally as well adjusted as those of opposite-sex couples. In fact, all major child welfare experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, support the freedom of same-sex couples to marry because all families benefit from the protections and security that marriage brings. Millions of children are currently being raised by same-sex couples, and the only way to ensure that these children have the same rights, benefits, and protections as their neighbors and classmates is to allow their parents to marry. Myth: The legalization of marriage equality will force children to learn about same-sex couples in school. FACT: The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act does not compel any changes to school programs. Despite the same fear tactics used in every state with marriage equality, no state that has legalized marriage equality has had same-sex marriage formalized into the public school educational curriculum. Myth: Marriage is a historical institution that has remained unchanged.  FACT: Marriage has evolved throughout history to meet the needs of our society. At various points in the past it was common to have arranged marriages, for women to be thought of as inferior to their husbands, for the woman’s family to pay a dowry, and for first cousins to get married. Some Biblical heroes had multiple wives; others had children with their daughters. Until 1967, states defined marriage as a union limited to people of the same race. During the decades when the majority of Americans supported bans on interracial marriage, proponents of the ban called marriage between a man and woman of different races “unnatural, anti-religious,” and claimed that our society would be “eroded” if the definition of marriage was altered. Today, these arguments against interracial marriage seem dated and bigoted, but the same language is being used to attack equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Ending race discrimination and gender discrimination in marriage did not change the concept of marriage as the building block of stable relationships and strong families, and neither would allowing gay people to marry. This change would merely allow couples already committed to each other to take on the legal responsibilities of civil marriage. Myth:  The recent Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor granted equal rights to gay and lesbian couples by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

 ACT: Striking down DOMA allows the federal government now to recognize marriages of same-sex F couples, but the Administration has stated explicitly that these benefits will not be available to couples in civil unions. Not only does Illinois offer only civil unions to same-sex couples, but even if the couples travel to other states to get married and come back to Illinois, access to many crucial federal benefits is conditioned on the marriage being valid in the state of the couple’s residence. Moreover, couples should not have to travel away from their homes, family, and friends in order to get married and gain access to these benefits.”



PURSUING JUSTICE Ten Reasons Religious Leaders Support the Freedom to Marry


  Supporting civil marriage equality shows that you respect and value the inherent


worth and dignity of all people, a consistent value in all religious traditions.

 Marriage is not just a religious institution; it also carries significant civil and


legal values.

  The stability, security, and rights that a civil marriage brings are beneficial for all families and children.


  Places of worship will always have the freedom to decide whether to perform or recognize any marriage, just as they already do.  

five six seven eight

 The most fundamental human need is the supportive love of other human beings.

  The loss of gay and lesbian believers in religious communities has been tragic.   Diversity of families enriches religious lives and communities.   Full equality for LGBT people is good for families, marriage, and sexual ethics.   Scriptural interpretation used to validate racism and sexism has been


discarded, and we should just as eagerly discard scriptural interpretation that marginalizes others.


  Discrimination is wrong, no matter who the victim is.



LIGHT UNTO THE NATION National Religious Leaders Supporting Marriage Equality BAPTIST • Rev. Delman Coates • Rev. David Gilmore • Rev. Donte Hickman • R  ev. Robin Lunn, Executive Director of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists • R  ev. Steve Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, Evangelical • P  astor Nancy Petty • R  ev. Dr. Dennis Wiley, American, Progressive National CATHOLIC • S  ir. Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministries, Roman • F  r. Joseph Palacios, Catholics for Equality, Roman • F  r. Robert Nugent, co-founder of New Ways Ministries, Roman CHRISTIAN • R  ev. Eric P. Lee, President and CEO of Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles

NONDENOMINATIONAL • R  ev. Starlene Joyner Burns, wedding minister PRESBYTERIAN • R  ev. Samuel Chu, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality REFORM JUDAISM • R  abbi Denise Eger, founding president of the Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Interfaith Clergy Association, Congregation Kol Ami • R  abbi Sarah Meytin, The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST • R  ev. Ryan Bell, Seventh-Day Adventist pastor and board member of the Interreligious Council of Southern California

CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN • R  ev. Larry Brumfield, founding member of Maryland Black Family Alliance

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST • R  ev. Rebecca Voelkel, program director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources • R  ev. Kenneth Samuel, founder of Victory Outreach in Community Empowerment (VOICE)

COLLEGIATE • R  ev. Jacqui Lewis, Executive Director of The Middle Project

UNITED METHODIST • R  ev. Stephen Anderson

CONGREGATIONAL • R  ev. Eugene T. Dyszlewski, chair of Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality

UNITY CHURCH • R  ev. Dorothy Harris

CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM • R  abbi Daniel Burg, Beth Am Synagogue EPISCOPAL • R  t. Rev. Greg Rickel • R  ev. Canon Susan Russell, LA Diocesan Program Group on LGBT Ministries • P  riest Angela Shepherd MUSLIM • Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, scholar and author • S  aqib Ali, community advocate and former State Delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates • S  aadia Khan, Hate Crimes Coordinator of the Muslim Public Affairs CouncilScott Kugle, scholar and author • M  elody Moezzi, scholar and author • A  ni Zonneveld, co-founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values and co-chief editor of Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada



LATTER-DAY SAINTS • B  ishop Kevin Kloosterman • M  itch Mayne, Bishropric of the Bay Ward of the San Francisco Stake of the Mormon Church OTHER AFFILIATIONS • R  ev. Dr. Traci C. West, Drew University Theological School • R  ev. Byron Williams, Resurrection Community Church

Illinois Religious Leaders Supporting Marriage Equality BAPTIST CHICAGO • R  ev. Jacki Belile, Living Well Ministries, American • R  ev. Doris Green, AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Evangelical Free Baptist • R  ev. Dr. Larry Greenfield, American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, American • R  ev. Susan Johnson, Hyde Park Union Church, American and United Church of Christ • R  ev. David Weasley, The Night Ministry, Grace Baptist Church, American EVANSTON • R  ev. Ann Louise Haak, American • R  ev. Dr. Douglas Sharp, Lake Street Church, American CATHOLIC CHICAGO • S  r. Mary Kay Flanigan, OSF, Roman • (Former Priest) Michael Herman, Roman • D  cn. Bill Mages, St. Mary of the Woods, Roman • B  r. Brian McLauchlin, SVD, Roman • T  he Staff at 8th Day Center for Justice, Roman • T  he Very Rev. Fr. Donn Meilke, St. Thomas Mission, Orthodox • C  hristopher Pett-President, Dignity Chicago, Roman • R  ev. Dcn. Benjamin Roe, St. Thomas Mission, Orthodox CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN SPRINGFIELD • P  astor Kreston Lipscomb, First Church of the Brethren CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM CHICAGO • R  abbi Lizzi Heydemann, Aitz Hayim, Mishkan Chicago • R  abbi Michael Siegel, Anshe Emet Synagogue • R  abbi Zachary Silver, Anshe Emet Synagogue EVANSTON • R  abbi Amitai Adler, Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living GLENCOE • C  antor David Landau, Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living NORTHFIELD • R  abbi Debra Newman Kamin, Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation • C  antor Stuart Simon, Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation RIVER FOREST • R  abbi Robin Damsky, West Suburban Temple Har Zion DISCIPLES OF CHRIST CHAMPAIGN • Jen  Tayabji, Illinois Disciples Foundation NORMAL • R  ev. Bob Ryder, New Covenant Community Church • R  ev. Susan Ryder, New Covenant Community Church SPRINGFIELD • R  ev. Dawn Victor, Christian Church

EPISCOPAL ARLINGTON HEIGHTS • R  ev. M.E. Eccles, St. Simon’s Episcopal Church BARRINGTON • R  ev. Patrick Raymond, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church BELVIDERE • R  ev. Dr. Joyce Beaulieu, Church of the Holy Trinity BOLINGBROOK • R  ev. Heidi Haverkamp, Church of St. Benedict CHICAGO • D  r. Rev. Edward Curtis, Grace Episcopal Church • T  he Rev. Scott Elliott, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago • R  ev. Tyrone Fowlkes, Director of Spiritual Formation, UCAN • R  ev. Jacqueline Lynn, St. James Cathedral • Rev. Dr. Mary Milano, OP, Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church • R  ev. Dr. Bonnie Anne Perry, All Saint’s Episcopal Church • R  ev. Dr. Robert Petite, St. Anna’s Chapel, Montgomery Place • L  ay Chaplain John Sattelmaier, All Saint’s Episcopal Church • The Very Rev. Joy Rogers, St. James Cathedral • R  ev. Stan Sloan, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Chicago House • R  ev. Jim Steen, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago – Diocesan Staff • T  he Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer, St. John’s Episcopal Church • The Rev. Robert T. Yeager, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church CLARENDON HILLS • R  ev. Aimee Delevett, Church of the Holy Nativity DES PLAINES • R  ev. Steven Godfrey, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church ELMHURST • R  ev. Steve Martz, Church of Our Saviour Episcopal EVANSTON • R  ev. Joan Barr Smith, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church • R  ev. Debra Bullock, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church • R  ev. Charles de Kay, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church • T  he Very Rev. Dr. Jeannette DeFriest, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church • R  ev. Roger Ferlo, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary • R  ev. Susan Harlow, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, People’s Church of Chicago GALENA • Rev. Dr. Gloria Hopewell, Grace Episcopal Church GLEN ELLYN • R  ev. George Smith, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church GURNEE • R  ev. Jane Schaefer, Annunciation of Our Lady Episcopal Church HARVEY • T  he Rev. Rod Reinhart, St. Clement’s Episcopal Church HIGHLAND PARK • R  ev. Andrea Mysen, Trinity Episcopal Church NORTHBROOK • R  ev. Lee Gaede, St. Giles Episcopal Church PARK RIDGE • R  ev. Sarah D. Odderstol ROCKFORD • R  ev. Pamela Hillenbrand, Emmanuel Episcopal Church WAUCONDA • R  ev. Martha Gillette, Church of the Holy Apostles THE RELIGIOUS CASE FOR THE FREEDOM TO MARRY


WAUKEGAN • R  ev. Eileen Shanley-Roberts, Christ Episcopal Church WOODSTOCK • R  ev. Patricia Conley, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church LUTHERAN ARLINGTON HEIGHTS • R  ev. Dan Hoeger, Our Saviors Lutheran Church, ELCA BERWYN • R  ev. David Ethan Olson, Retired, St. James Lutheran Church, ELCA BOLINGBROOK • P  astor Paul Carlson, New Life Lutheran Church, ELCA BROOKFIELD • R  ev. Thad Fisher, Faith Lutheran Church, ELCA CHAMPAIGN • D  r. Esther Portnoy, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, ELCA CHICAGO • E  mily Abrahamson, Lutheran School of Theology • R  ev. Dr. Klaus Peter Adam, Lutheran School of Theology • R  ev. Joan Beck, Lutheran School of Theology • Rev.  Dr. Kim L. Beckmann, ELCA • P  astor Liala Beukema, Lake View Lutheran Church, ELCA • Rev. Dr. Kathleen Billman, Lutheran School of Theology • R  ev. Erik C. Christensen, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square, ELCA • R  ev. Michael Fick, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, ELCA • J eff Fitzkappes, Lutheran School of Theology • R  ev. Fred Kinsey, Unity Evangelical Lutheran Church, ELCA • R  ev. Dr. Sherman Hicks, Resurrection Lutheran Church, ELCA • C  heryl Hoth, Lutheran School of Theology • R  ev. Dr. Ralph Klein, Lutheran School of Theology and Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church • D  r. Esther Menn, Lutheran School of Theology and Augustana Lutheran Church • B  ishop Wayne Miller, ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod • P  astor Craig Mueller, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, ELCA • R  ev. Dr. Ray Pickett, Lutheran School of Theology • R  ev. John Roberts, Unity Lutheran Church, ELCA • P  astor Julie Ryan, Christ the Mediator Lutheran Church, ELCA • R  ev. Seminarian Kyle Severson, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, ELCA • P  astor Michelle Sevig, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, ELCA • M  arji Shannon, Lutheran School of Theology • D  r. Benjamin Stewart, Lutheran School of Theology and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church CHICAGO HEIGHTS • R  ev. Patrick Shebeck, Prince of Peace Lutheran, ELCA CRYSTAL LAKE • R  ev. Carrie Smith, Bethany Lutheran Church, ELCA • R  ev. Dr. Robert Smith, Bethany Lutheran Church, ELCA ELGIN • P  astor Keith Fry, Christ the Lord Lutheran Church, ELCA EVANSTON • P  astor Lloyd Kittlaus, University Lutheran Church, ELCA • R  ev. Betty Landis, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, ELCA EVERGREEN PARK • R  ev. Harlan Frank Showers, United by Faith Lutheran Church, ELCA GLEN ELLYN • P  astor Jim Honig, Faith Lutheran Church, ELCA LINCOLNWOOD • R  ev. Patrick McGuire, St. John’s Lutheran Church MARYVILLE • R  ev. William Veith, Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, ELCA 8|


NEPONSET • R  ev. Dawn Keenan, Zion Lutheran Church, ELCA NORTHFIELD • R  ev. Dennis Kelly, Lutheran Church of the Ascension, ELCA OAK LAWN • P  astor Nancy Goede, Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, ELCA OAK PARK • R  ev. Dennis Bushkofsky, United Lutheran Church, ELCA • P  astor Kathy Nolte, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, ELCA PARK RIDGE • R  ev. Dan Schwick, Lutheran Advocacy of Illinois, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, ELCA ROCKFORD • R  ev. Kenneth Storck, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, ELCA ROCK ISLAND • P  astor Stacie Fiedlar, St. John’s Lutheran Church, ELCA ROMEOVILLE • R  ev. Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, ELCA WHEATON • Rev. Melody Eastman, St. Paul Lutheran Church, ELCA MENNONITE CHICAGO • P  astor Megan Ramer, Chicago Community Mennonite Church EVANSTON • P  astor Mitchell C. Brown, Evanston Mennonite Church METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH BROOKFIELD • R  ev. Danny Spears, Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church • R  ev. Peter Trabaris, Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church • R  ev. Karon Van Gelder, Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church CHICAGO • R  ev. Rachelle Brown, A Church for Me • R  ev. Gordon R. McCoy, Cluster Lead SPRINGFIELD • R  ev. Dr. Tony Thieman, Heartland Metropolitan Community Church MORMON SYCAMORE • F  ormer Mormon Bishop, Kevin Kloosterman, Sycamore Chapel MULTI-DENOMINATIONAL CHICAGO • R  ev. John C. Modschiedler, Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council, University Church EVANSTON • R  ev. Marcia Heeter, Lake Street Church PRESBYTERIAN ARLINGTON HEIGHTS • R  ev. Beth Freese Dammers, First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights

CHICAGO • R  ev. Jocelyn Cadwallader, Lake View Presbyterian Church • Rev. Victoria G. Curtiss, Fourth Presbyterian Church • R  ev. Dr. Jeffrey Doane, Emeritus, Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church • Rev. Dr. Edwin Dykstra, Lakeview Presbyterian • Rev. Dr. Jan Edmiston, Chicago Prebytery • Rev. Amy Heinrich, Chicago Prebytery • Rev. Hardy Kim, Fourth Presbyterian Church • R  ev. Michael Kirby, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church • R  ev. Nanette Sawyer, Grace Commons • R  ev. Joyce Shin, Fourth Presbyterian Church • Rev. Dr. Stu Smith, Lake View Presbyterian Church • Rev. John Vest, Fourth Presbyterian Church • R  ev. Dr. Christine Vogel, Fourth Presbyterian Church CRYSTAL LAKE • R  ev. John Dillon, Crystal Lake Presbyterian-Ridgefield GENEVA • R  ev. Bart Roush, Fox Valley Presbyterian Church NAPERVILLE • R  ev. David Bebb Jones, Pastor Emeritus at Presbyterian Church of Western Springs and Parish Associate at Knox Presbyterian Church of Naperville WINNETKA • R  ev. David Lower, Winnetka Presbyterian Church RECONSTRUCTIONIST JUDAISM CHICAGO • R  abbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, Center for Jewish Mindfulness NAPERVILLE • R  abbi Marc Rudolph, Congregation Beth Shalom REFORM JUDAISM BUFFALO GROVE • C  antor Cheryl Wunch, Congregation Beth Am CHICAGO • R  abbi Batsheva Appel, K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation • R  abbi Shoshanah Conover, Temple Sholom • R  abbi Larry Edwards, Congregation Or Chadash • C  antor Aviva Katzman, Temple Sholom • R  abbi Dr. Peter S. Knobel, Temple Sholom • R  abbi Michael Zedek, Emanuel Congregation EVANSTON • R  abbi Andrea London, Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue GLENCOE • R  abbi Bruce Elder, Congregation Hakafa • R  abbi Wendi Geffen, North Shore Congregation Israel HIGHLAND PARK • C  antor Michael Davis, Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism Children’s Center • R  abbi Anne Persin, Congregation B’nai Torah • C  antorial Soloist Ilana Axel, Beth Tikvah Congregation • R  abbi Taron Tachman, Beth Tikvah Congregation HOMEWOOD • R  abbi Ellen Dreyfus, B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom LONG GROVE • R  abbi Alison Abrams, Temple Chai • R  abbi Stephen Hart, Temple Chai • C  antor Scott Simon, Temple Chai NORTHBROOK • R  abbi Sidney Helbraun, Temple Beth El • R  abbi Toby Manewith, Temple Beth El NORTHFIELD • R  abbi Paul Cohen, Temple Jeremiah OAK PARK • R  abbi Max Weiss, Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion

SKOKIE • R  abbi Amy Memis-Foler, Temple Judea Mizpah WILMETTE • R  abbi Samuel Gordon, Congregation Sukkat Shalom RELIGIOUS SCIENCE CARY • R  ev. Anne Muelleman, Center for Spiritual Evolution/ McHenry County Church of Religious Science OAK PARK • R  ev. Mary Beth Speer, Oak Park Church of Religious Science RENEWAL JUDAISM DEERFIELD • R  abbi Jodi Kornfeld, Beth Chaverim Humanistic Jewish Community UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST BLOOMINGTON • R  ev. Jackie Clement, Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal • R  ev. Dr. Ruth Gnagey, Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal CARBONDALE Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship CHICAGO • R  ev. Dr. Lee Barker, President & Professor of Ministry at Meadville Lombard Theological School • R  ev. Dr. Clare Butterfield, Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation • R  ev. Rudra Dundzila, Second Unitarian Church of Chicago • R  ev. Dr. Neil Gerdes, Meadville Lombard Theological School, St. Thomas the Apostle RC Church • D  r. Michael Hogue, Meadville Lombard Theological School • Rev. Adam Robersmith, Second Unitarian Church • R  ev. Dr. John W. Tolley, Meadville Lombard Theological School DECATUR • R  ev. Larry Hutchison, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Decatur ELGIN • R  ev. Daniel Brosier, Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin MCHENRY • R  ev. Sean P. Dennison, Unitarian Universalist Congregation OAK PARK • Rev. Emily Gage, Unity Temple UU Congregation PALATINE •R  ev. Hilary J Krivchenia, Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist PEORIA • Rev. Michael Brown, Unitarian Universalist Church • Intern Minister Erin Dajka, Unitarian Universalist Church ROCKFORD • Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson-Doyle, The Unitarian Universalist Church SPRINGFIELD • M  inister Emeritu Berkley Moore, Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church • Intern Minister Lynnda White, Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church • R  ev. Martin Woulfe, Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Church STOCKTON • Rev. Erik David Carlson, Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton



UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST ALGONQUIN • R  ev. Donald Schmidt, First Congregational Church of Algonquin ARLINGTON HEIGHTS • R  ev. Jeffrey L Phillips, St. John’s United Church of Christ • R  ev. Dr. Rex E Piercy, Congregational United Church of Christ AURORA • R  ev. Gary McCann, New England Congregational Church BARRINGTON HILLS • Rev. Mark Agnini BERWYN • Rev. Kelly Brouwer, United Church of Christ CAHOKIA • Rev. Carol Shanks, Bethel United Church of Christ CANTON • R  ev. Sue Harrington, First Congregational United Church of Christ CARBONDALE • Rev. Sonja Ingebritsen, Church of the Good Shepherd CARPENTERSVILLE • Rev. James Benzing, First Congregational United Church of Christ CHAMPAIGN • Rev. Christie Callahan • Rev. Laurie Hill, St. Peter’s United Church of Christ • Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, Community United Church of Christ CHICAGO • R  ev. David K Antieau, St. Nicolai United Church of Christ • R  ev. Barbara Bolsen, Night Ministry, Epiphany United Church of Christ • R  ev. William Bordonaro, Bethany United Church of Christ • R  ev. Jeffrey Carlson, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ • R  ev. Clint Collins, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ • R  ev. Jason Coulter, Ravenswood United Church of Christ • D  r. W. Scott Haldeman, Chicago Theological Seminary • R  ev. Dr. Alice Hunt, Chicago Theological Seminary, Trinity United Church of Christ • R  ev. Kevin McLemore, Epiphany United Church of Christ • R  ev. Jorge Morales, Illinois Conference • R  ev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ • R  ev. Vertie Powers, United Church of Christ in Kenwood • R  ev. Benjamin Ledell Reynolds, First Church of the Brethren • R  ev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, Chicago Theological Seminary • R  ev. Kevin Tindell, New Dimensions • R  ev. Oscar Varnadoe III, Trinity United Church of Christ CRYSTAL LAKE • Rev. Mary Cramer, First Congregational Church • R  ev. David Inglis, First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake • R  ev. Lynda Vackar, First Congregational Church DEERFIELD • R  ev. Roger Dart, Congregational Church in Deerfield • Rev.  Susan Chamberlin-Smith, Trinity United Church of Christ Deerfield DEKALB • R  ev. Dr. Joseph Gastiger, First Congregational Church of Christ • R  ev. Judy Harris, First Congregational United Church of Christ 10 |


DOWNERS GROVE • R  ev. Kirk Moore, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ • R  ev. Scott Oberle, First Congregational Church of Christ ELGIN • R  ev. Paige Wolfanger, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ ELMHURST • R  ev. Jeanne Murawski, St Peter’s United Church of Christ • R  ev. Gordon Smith, Bethel United Church of Christ EVANSTON • R  ev. Wayne MacPherson • R  ev. Dr. Ann Rosewall, First Congregational Church of Evanston GENEVA • R  ev. Rebecca Clancy, First Congregational Church of Geneva • R  ev. C. Erwin, First Congregational Church of Geneva • R  ev. Carolyn Fabian, First Congregational Church of Geneva GLEN ELLYN • R  ev. Seth Ethan Carey, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn • R  ev. Dr. Lillian Daniel, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn HIGHLAND • R  ev. Jerry Bennett, Program Coordinator, Illinois South Conference, Illinois Conference United Church of Christ • R  ev. Sheldon Culver, St. Paul United Church of Christ • R  ev. Carol Currier-Frighetto, St. Paul United Church of Christ HINSDALE • R  everend Dr. Thom Parrott-Sheffer, Union Church of Hinsdale INDIAN HEAD PARK • R  ev. Dr. Robert von Trebra, Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ JACKSONVILLE • R  ev. Jan C. Johnson, Congregational United Church of Christ Jacksonville KANKAKEE • R  ev. Barbara Lohrbach, St. John United Church of Christ Kankakee • E  lder Dawn Sanchez, St. John’s United Church of Christ Kankakee LOMBARD • R  ev. Dr. Robert Hatfield, First Church of Lombard NAPERVILLE • R  ev. Timoth Sylvia, Hope United Church of Christ • R  ev. Mark Winters, First Congregational Church OAK LAWN • P  astor Peggy McClanahan, Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ • Rev. Steven Hoerger, Salem United Church of Christ OAK PARK • R  ev. Leah Fowler, First United Church of Oak Park • R  ev. Dean Hokel, Pilgrim United Church of Christ • R  ev. Dr. Julie Harley, First United Church of Oak Park • R  ev. Rob Leveridge, First United Church of Oak Park • R  ev. Sally VerSchave Iberg, Pilgrim Congregational Church OTTAWA • R  ev. Dr. Winn Alley, Ottawa United Church of Christ ROCKFORD • R  ev. Dr. Fred Krauss, Second Congregational United Church of Christ • P  astor Michael Simmons, Retired, Spring Creek United Church of Christ PEORIA • R  ev. Kate Feeney-Bastian

• R  ev. Carole Hoke, Fondulac Congregational Church of Christ • R  ev. James Semmelroth Darnell ROCKFORD • R  ev. Ivan Schoen, Spring Creek United Church of Christ • R  ev. Dr. J. Michael Solberg, Second Congregational United Church of Christ SKOKIE • P  astor Jan Smith, St. Peter United Church of Christ SPRINGFIELD • R  ev. Dan Dexter, First Congregational United Church of Christ • R  ev. James Hibbett, First Congregation United Church of Christ WEST CHICAGO • R  ev. Denise Griebler, St. Michael’s United Church of Christ WEST DUNDEE • R  ev. Aaron James, First Congregational United Church of Christ UNITED METHODIST ANTIOCH • R  ev. Martha Schmidt, United Methodist Church ARLINGTON HEIGHTS • R  ev. Bonnie Beckonchrist, First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights • R  ev. Betty Jo (B.J.) Birkhahn Rommelfanger, Church of the Incarnation AUBURN • R  ev. Brian Caughlan, United Methodist Church AURORA • R  ev. Alka Lyall, Bethany of Fox Valley United Methodist Church BARRINGTON • R  ev. Robert Wulff, Salem United Methodist Church BARTONVILLE • R  ev. Linda A Richard, Bartonville Methodist Church BENTON • R  ev. Shane Smith, First United Methodist Church BUFFALO GROVE • R  ev. Lucas Pepper, Deacon, Kingswood United Methodist Church CHATHAM • R  ev. Sara Isbell, Chatham United Methodist Church CHICAGO • R  ev. Christian Coon, Urban Village Church • R  ev. Gregory Gross, Berry United Methodist • R  ev. Trey Hall, Urban Village Church • P  astor Brittany Isaac, Urban Village Church • R  ev. Lois McCullen-Parr, Broadway Methodist Church • Rev.  April McGlothin-Eller, United Church of Rogers Park • R  ev. Amos Oladipo, Epworth Methodist Church • R  ev. Troy Plummer, Retired, Reconciling Ministries • R  ev. Preston Price, Urban Village Church • R  ev. Wendy Ann Witt, First Methodist Church Chicago Temple COAL CITY • Rev.  Lora Zink, Coal City United Methodist Church ELMHURST • R  ev. Dr. Norma Lee Kerns, First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst EVANSTON • R  ev. Richard Mosley Jr., Hemenway Methodist Church • Rev.  Julie Windsor Mitchell, University Christian Ministry at Northwestern University GLEN ELLYN • R  ev. Elizabeth Bowes, Glen Ellyn First United Methodist Church HINCKLEY • R  ev. Laura Crites, First United Methodist Church of Hinckley

ITASCA • R  ev. Sherrie Lowly, Bethany United Methodist Church LAKE BLUFF • R  ev. David Aslesen, Grace United Methodist Church LAGRANGE • R  ev. Addison Shields Jr., First United Methodist Church LOMBARD • R  ev. Luis F. Reyes, First United Methodist Church of Lombard MACON • R  ev. Janet Eggleston, United Methodist Church MAHOMET • R  ev. Jeremiah Thompson, Mahomet United Methodist MURPHYSBORO • R  ev. Sue Bailey, United Methodist Church of Murphysboro NAPERVILLE • R  ev. Donald Niswonger, Grace United Methodist Church • R  ev. Lisa Telomen, Grace United Methodist Church OAK LAWN • R  ev. GaHyung Kim, First United Methodist Church of Oak Lawn OAK PARK • P  astor Stephanie Escher, UMC Cornerstone • R  ev. Marti Scott, Euclid Avenue Methodist Church PEORIA • R  ev. Lauren Padgett, United Methodist Church PONTIAC • R  ev. Scott Carnes, Pontiac First United Methodist Church RIVERSIDE • R  ev. Douglas Asbury, Riverside United Methodist Church SPRINGFIELD • R  ev. Julia Melgreen, Douglas Avenue UMC SUGAR GROVE • P  astor Victoria Hadaway, Sugar Grove Methodist Church TUSCOLA • R  ev. Seth Schutte, Tuscola United Methodist church URBANA • R  ev. Daniel King Crede, Wesley United Methodist Church UNITY CHURCH BATAVIA • R  ev. Jan Little, Unity of Fox Valley CHICAGO • Rev. Russ Sorenson, Unity in Chicago QUINCY • R  ev. Ron Fritts, Unity Spiritual Life Center ROCKFORD • D  onna Addison, Board of Directors, Christ Church Unity of Rockford OTHER AFFILIATIONS CHICAGO • R  ev. Jerome Adams, First Church of Deliverance • R  ev. Dr. Nick Angotti • R  ev. Celeste Frazier, Power of Oneness Spiritual Center • R  ev. Jamie Frazier, The Lighthouse Church • R  ev. Mark Anthony Lord, Bodhi Spiritual Center • R  ev. Joette Waters, Wedding Minister/ Bodhi Spiritual Center OAK BROOK • R  ev. William Christiansen, M.Div. Affiliations of the clergy and faith leaders above are listed for identification purposes only. THE RELIGIOUS CASE FOR THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

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Marriage equality is politically right and morally right; it fundamentally strengthens our Catholic values by supporting all our families.” - Sister Jeannine Gramick, Roman Catholic nun and co-founder of New Ways Ministries

As a Baptist minister, I don’t have the right to impose my views on anyone else. If committed gay and lesbian couples want to marry, that is their business, none of us should stand in their way.” - Rev. Al Sharpton, Baptist minister, founder of National Action Network and MSNBC commentator


I see the issue of marriage equality as an important indication of human rights and social tolerance. I favor marriage equality because those who want to marry deserve the chance to do so, whether they have opposite-gender partners or samegender partners.” - Scott Kugle, Muslim scholar and author

The decision for or against marriage equality lay in the Constitution, not the Bible. I am not suggesting you ignore your Bibles; I am inviting you to revisit (not revise, revisit) the Scriptures used to investigate homosexuality and faith. Sexual orientation speaks of an emotional, relational, and sexual fulfillment and comfort. Seeing the Trinity in gay people made me question what I believed and why I believed it.” - Kathy Baldock, minister and Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections

Our role is to do all we can to allow love to flourish.” - Rev. Sam Offer, Unity Fellowship minister

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[Marriage for same-sex couples] doesn’t affect my marriage; it doesn’t affect anybody else’s marriage. It doesn’t harm us in any way.” Civil marriage is “a state issue separate from whatever religious folks might think of marriage.” - Saqib Ali, Muslim community advocate and former State Delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people deserve the same freedoms and responsibilities when it comes to sacred covenants that straight people do. Love is love.” - Rev. Robin Lunn, Baptist pastor and Executive Director for the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists

Marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is, in the end, about honoring the love and commitment shared between two people and supporting their families. That is why the majority of Catholics support marriage equality laws. Even though the Catholic hierarchy, who we respect, may not support marriage equality, we know our faith teaches that where there is love, there is God. And where there is love, there is the basis for a more healthy and more just society.” - Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry

As a Muslim, it is my moral obligation to speak out and stand up whenever I see an injustice being carried out. If we, as Muslims, expect our rights to be respected around the world, then we too must respect the rights of other minority groups.” - Melody Moezzi, Iranian-American author and Executive Director of 100 People of Faith

[Marriage equality] provides equal rights for same-gender couples, while at the same time preserving religious freedom and protecting the autonomy of religious institutions and their clergy.” - Rev. Delman Coates, Baptist senior pastor and organizer of the Enough is Enough Campaign

As preachers, we have to echo a message of inclusivity of all people in the family of God. Love, mutual respect, and care are hallmarks of family. So all that the church can do to support, bless, and sanction family, we should.” - Rev. Kenneth Samuel, UCC minister and founder of Victory Outreach in Community Empowerment (VOICE)


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Marriage, not civil union, gave me that sense of equality and belonging. Civil union with all the ‘rights of marriage,’ yet without the name of ‘marriage,’ is not freedom but a concession, is not liberty but toleration; and, therefore, ‘civil union’ is but another name for oppression.” - Rev. Stephen R. Parelli, Evangelical Baptist pastor and Executive Director of Other Sheep

My ordination vows require me to minister to all people in my congregation. This is about pastoral care, about welcoming all people, but especially the marginalized and the oppressed, like Jesus did.” - Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling, United Methodist pastor and board member of Methodists in New Directions

I believe that a gay couple who has chosen to make a life together and build a home and family together should be given the same rights under the law as other couples who act similarly. It seems to me that it is immoral for the state to decide which marriage is worthy. Gay people should be entitled to the same rights that a straight couple is, and matters of religion and morality are not matters for the state.” - Rabbi Francine Roston, Congregation Beth El (Conservative Judaism)

I’m looking forward to the day when gay marriage is sanctioned by the state and I can sign a legal document stating the couple was married without having to schlep all the way to Massachusetts.” - Rabbi Joel Abraham, Temple Sholom (Reform Judaism)

Religious freedom has been denied to thousands of faith communities whose theologies call for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.” - Rev. J. Manny Santiago, Pastor, University Baptist Church - Seattle, WA

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Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann, Mishkan Chicago and Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Life Equality Illinois Prayer Breakfast, May 8, 2012

I ASKED my community on Shabbat what they thought about this question. The first response: not why is gay marriage an issue of faith, but why is faith concerned with marriage at all? Because surely whatever our reasons for being interested in marriage—how we regard and treat people who have committed their lives to each other, how we construe the responsibilities of people have who commit their lives to the other, what status we give people who have committed their lives to the other—whatever our reasons are for being interested in these questions regarding heteronormative relationships should govern our thinking about gay marriage as well. Indeed, I affirmed, the Torah makes very clear from the outset: After creating land and sea, trees and plants, sun and moon, sea and land creatures, we learn that God thought these creations good—TOV. And God thought the creation called Adam—made in Her own image, after His own likeness, both male and female in nature- was very good, TOV MEOD. Yet, amid all this goodness there was something God realized was actually not good, the first negative in the Torah. LO TOV HEYOT ADAM L’VADO,—“It is not good for Adam to be alone” (Gen 2:18). Yes, to the degree that the Torah is concerned with the human being; the Torah is obsessed with the human being in community. It is not good for us to be alone. That right there should be reason enough to say, We are concerned that human beings have access to finding ezer k’negdo, our helper who simultaneously aids and opposes us—the one who provides deep, transformative, soul-connecting love, love born of mutual support and stability—imagery of two boards that in connecting opposing each other, help the other stand. The kind of love that sustains us and helps us grow, that creates loving, twoparent homes in which to raise children—whether or not those children are our biological offspring, whether those partners happen to be the same gender. That is one of the most profound lessons of Torah and of a Bible-based faith: We thrive with companionship; God wants us to find our ezer k’negdo, first and foremost, and wants to bless that partnership. And then someone raised his hand. “What about the verse that says, ‘A man shall not lie with a man as he lies with a woman’?” (Lev 18:22) There are many ways to respond to this challenge. I wanted to share one approach I find particularly important in our age—an age of fundamentalists and literalists and claimers of Torah-true Judaism and gospel-truth Christians, people who privilege certain laws like Leviticus 18:22 over others like Genesis 2:18. The dean of my rabbinical school, Rabbi Brad Shavit Artson, describes the vocation of the master artist. The master artist, whether in painting or music, has mastered the basics of the craft—mastered all the scales and arpeggios, learned how to draw a killer still life. But the master artist must do more than master the basics and regurgitate them the way they’ve always been interpreted. Imagine if Leonardo DaVinci, or Beethoven, had been content to peddle the same wares they inherited artistically, musically. No, the master artist takes the craft she has inherited and looks at it afresh in the light of the world she sees around her. What norms need to be challenged? What sacred golden calves of status quo must be smashed? The analogy is clear: we, the clergy in our respective faiths, have inherited a craft that includes preaching, pastoring, advocating, teaching, listening, utilizing the books, the verses, the words that we have inherited. No less than a master artist must choose one brush stroke or note over another to create a masterpiece, we must do the same with the traditions we have inherited. We must decide whether we preach and interpret with a hermeneutic of love and inclusion, or rest on the status quo that includes excluding certain people from rights and privileges held by others. We must decide whether we focus our attention on Genesis or Leviticus, which verses are timeless overarching principles of human life, and which must be reinterpreted for a new age. LO TOV HEYOT ADAM L’VADO, it is not good for the human being, male or female, gay or straight, to be alone. It is not good for us to be alone. Any one of God’s children. This is a foundational principle, a guide and a lens through which to read every other verse in the Torah regarding human relationships. As humble masters of our tradition, it is our imperative to privilege this approach to companionship over ones that presume that any one of us knows who is a fitting companion is for anyone else. The fact is that after God makes this declaration, God gives Adam, the human being, the ability to go through the animal kingdom and realize that his fitting helper, his ezer k’negdo, was not part of the existing set of options. God had to change the status quo for a new era. So must we.


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“COMMUNITIES OF FAITH AS ADVOCATES AND VOICES FOR LGBT EQUALITY” Reverend Sarah Odderstol, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Park Ridge, IL Equality Illinois Prayer Breakfast, May 8, 2012

YOU KNOW, you all know, it does not take much for one human being to decide that another human being is “other.” On the other hand…a great deal must be overcome for a person to decide that the person, that is someway different from them, is as deserving of God’s blessing as they are. In my experience as a clergy person, relationships are the only thing that can bridge the differences of “otherness.” Relationships change hearts and minds. Several years before I came to St. Mary’s, the parish called a partnered lesbian to serve as an assisting clergy person. Although St. Mary’s had been an “Open and Affirming Parish” for decades, initially there was some resistance to Aimee’s call and a few families left the congregation. But Aimee was so truly called to ministry and she was so gifted at her craft that she quickly charmed the socks off the place. She and her spouse Alison were involved in everything together. They modeled Christian service and Christian marriage. The congregation could not help but compare Aimee and Alison to the senior clergy member and his spouse who never seemed to be around because she was a clergy person who served another congregation. Aimee and Alison had such an impact on the community that when the congregation was preparing to call a new clergy leader—me—the same octogenarians that had resisted Aimee’s coming told those in charge of hiring a new clergy leader that they wanted their new priest to have a “normal marriage” like Aimee and Alison. Relationships change hearts and minds! I am convinced that God wants communities of faith to be in the business of building relationships that bridge “otherness.” As much as some of us who live in places like Park Ridge would love to have things be different, we are not the first place the LGBT community is going to think of when looking to explore God’s call to journey in faith. That doesn’t mean we don’t have an important role to play in advocating for LGBT equality! Two and a half decades ago, when St. Mary’s first proclaimed itself a place of welcome, I’m pretty sure the congregation had no idea where that designation of hospitality would take them. Since then we have become a haven for families, friends, supporters and those questioning. We are a safe place to engage in big questions. We are a resource to congregations around us testing the waters of full inclusion. Faith communities should be a place where people can come to know and love those who they consider to be other. Faith communities should be a place where people can experience a same-sex marriage that looks more “normal” than a hetero-marriage. Faith communities should be a place where all people know themselves to be worthy of God’s blessing. …I’d like to offer you a prayer used here in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago during The Witnessing and Blessing of a Holy Union: Most gracious God, you have put into the hearts of your people a yearning for union with you and one another. You call us into covenant and endow us with heart and will that we may honor and keep our commitments. Pour out your blessing upon this couple, that they my honor one another in all times and in all places. Bless them in their loving faithfulness; touch others through them, that many may know more fully the grace of your love. Deepen their joy, sanctify their celebration; guide and console them in difficult times; ever sustain in them an awareness of your loving care; and finally bring them to know you face to face… This prayer and others like it are a step in the right direction, but they do not mark the end of the journey. Communities of faith need to continue to advocate for full marriage equality for all of God’s people. We all need to love and to be loved and to know God blesses us in doing so. This is the work of faith communities.

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COMING OUT IN FAVOR OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL

TELL YOUR BRETHREN who are part of your ministerial coalition to “live their faith and not legislate their faith,” for the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of all. We must learn to be more than a one-issue community and seek the beloved community where we may not all agree, but we all recognize the fingerprint of the Divine upon all of humanity. There is no doubt people who are same-gender-loving occupy prominent places in the body of Christ. For the clergy to hide from true dialogue with quick dismissive claims devised from poor biblical scholarship is as sinful as unthoughtful acceptance of a theological position. When we make biblical claims without sound interpretation, we run the risk of adopting a doctrinal position of deep conviction but devoid of love. Deep faith may resonate in our position, but it is the ethic of love that forces us to prayerfully reexamine our position. The question I believe we should pose to our congregations is, “Should all Americans have the same civil rights?” This is a radically different question than the one you raised with the ministers, “Does the church have the right to perform or not perform certain religious rites?” There is difference between rights and rites. We should never misconstrue rights designed to protect diverse individuals in a pluralistic society versus religious rites designed by faith communities to communicate a theological or doctrinal perspective. These two questions are answered in two fundamentally different arenas. One is answered in the arena of civic debate where the Constitution is the document of authority. The other is answered in the realm of ecclesiastical councils where theology, conscience, and biblical mandates are the guiding ethos. I do not believe ecclesiastical councils are equipped to shape civic legislation, nor are civic representatives equipped to shape religious rituals and doctrine. The institution of marriage is not under attack as a result of the President’s words. Marriage was under attack years ago by men who viewed women as property and children as trophies of sexual prowess. Marriage is under attack by low wages, high incarceration, unfair tax policy, unemployment, and lack of education. Marriage is under attack by clergy who proclaim monogamy yet think nothing of stepping outside the bonds of marriage to have multiple affairs with “preaching groupies.” Same-gender couples did not cause the high divorce rate, but our adolescent views of relationships and our inability as a community to come to grips with the ethic of love and commitment did. We still confuse sex with love and romance with commitment.

My father, who is a veteran of the civil rights movement and retired pastor, eloquently stated the critical nature of this election when speaking to ministers this past week who claim they will pull support from the President as a result of his position. He stated, “Our Ancestors prayed for 389 years to place a person of color in the White House. They led over 200 slave revolts, fought in 11 wars, one being a civil war where over 600,000 people died. Our mothers fought and were killed for women’s suffrage, our grandparents were lynched for the civil rights bill of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965…my father never had the opportunity to vote and I believe it is my sacred duty to pull the lever for every member of my family who was denied the right to vote. I will not allow narrow-minded ministers or regressive politicians the satisfaction of keeping me from my sacred right to vote to shape the future for my grandchildren.” “The institution of marriage is not under attack as a result of the President’s words.” Gay and lesbian citizens did not cause the economic crash, foreclosures, and attack upon health care. Poor underfunded schools were not created because people desire equal protection under the law. We have much work to do as a community, and to claim the President of the United States must hold your theological position is absurd. He is President of the United States of America, not the President of the Baptist convention or Bishop of the Sanctified or Holiness Church. He is called to protect the rights of Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, gay and straight, black and white, atheist and agnostic. It should be noted the President offered no legislation, or executive order, or present an argument before the Supreme Court. He simply stated his personal conviction. If we dare steal away from the noise of this debate, we will realize as a church we are called to “do justice, live mercy, and walk humbly with God.” Gay people have never been the enemy; and when we use rhetoric to suggest they are the source of our problems we lie on God and cause tears to flow from the eyes of Christ. I am not asking you to change your position, but I am stating we must stay in dialogue and not allow our own personal emotional prejudices or doctrines to prevent us from seeing the possibilities of a beloved community. November is fast approaching, and the spirits of Ella Baker, Septima Clarke, Fannie Lou Hammer, Rosa Parks, A. Phillip Randolph, James Orange, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King Jr. stand in the balcony of heaven raising the question, “Will you do justice, live mercy, and walk humbly with our God?” Emmitt Till and the four little girls who were assassinated in Alabama during worship did not die for a Sunday sermonic sound bite to show disdain for one group of God’s people. They were killed by an evil act enacted by men who believed in doctrine over love. We serve in ministry this day because of a man who believed in love over doctrine and died on a hill called Calvary in a dusty Palestinian community 2,000 years ago. Do not let the rhetoric of this debate keep you from the polls, my friends. THE RELIGIOUS CASE FOR THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

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TRUTH IS POWER On the side of supporting same-sex marriage, the majority of religiously unaffiliated persons (76%) are joined by majorities of Jews (81%), Americans affiliated with a non-Judeo-Christian religion (63%), Catholics (58%), and mainline Protestants (55%). All of these groups have seen an increase in support over the past year. Public Religion Research Institute More information available at

A majority of Christians (52%) opposed the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, struck down in June 2013 by the United States Supreme Court. Human Rights Campaign and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Full report accessible at

Majorities of religiously unaffiliated Americans (77%), white mainline Protestants (58%), Catholics (55%), and black Protestants (53%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. More information available at

86% of Christians believe their faith leads them to the conclusion that the law should treat all people equally, including LGBT people. Human Rights Campaign More information about the poll available at

Religious support of LGBT people helps to reduce the feelings of isolation, shame, and guilt that many LGBT adolescents and adults face and is likely to reduce the number of LGBTrelated suicides. Addressing Religious Arguments to Achieve LGBT Equality: A Report by Faith in America

Full report accessible at

Americans are more than twice as likely to say their views have become more supportive of same-sex marriage (20%) over the last five years rather than more opposed (8%) More information available at

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AN OPEN LETTER FROM ILLINOIS CLERGY AND FAITH LEADERS ON MARRIAGE We represent people of faith from a variety of communities across our state, and we strongly support the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. We dedicate our lives to fostering faith and compassion, and we work daily to promote justice and fairness for all. Standing on these beliefs, we think that it is morally just to grant equal opportunities and responsibilities to loving, committed same-sex couples. There can be no justification for the law treating people differently on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We accept our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and recognize that their families need equal recognition and protections. We believe all Illinois couples should have the same civil protections and urge our public officials to support measures to achieve equality. There are differences among our many religious traditions. Some recognize and bless same-sex unions, and some do not. The important thing is that the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act protects religious freedom and guarantees that all faiths will decide which marriages should be consecrated and solemnized within their tradition. The sacred writings and traditions that we follow carry the messages of love, justice and inclusion. The very basis of marriage is to protect the family, strengthen our communities and advocate compassion. No couple should be excluded from that. We want to promote the common good – that which is best for individuals, couples, families, children, and society. As people of faith and as citizens of Illinois, we ask you to stand for freedom for all of our citizens and support the freedom to marry. It’s not only a matter of equality – it’s a matter of conscience and justice.

To join the long list of signatories of this Faith Petition, to endorse the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, or to discuss marriage equality further please contact Equality Illinois.

Equality Illinois 3318 North Halsted Street Chicago, Illinois 60657 773-477-7173


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Š 2013 Equality Illinois

Equality Illinois is the state’s oldest and largest organization securing, defending, and protecting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. 3712 N Broadway #125 Chicago IL 60613 773.477.7173

The Religious Case for the Freedom to Marry  

Prepared by Equality Illinois, the case for allowing faiths to decide which marriages should be consecrated. (Updated 9/13)