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May 2005 Newsletter
Equal Marriage Rights
Official Interfaith Working Group Statements
IWG Statement Regarding Judge Ray Moore's decision in D.H. v. H.H
Philadelphia, February 21, 2002
We believe that Judge Ray Moore's decision in D.H. v. H.H. was in violation of
the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution which
all judges swear to uphold. As an individual opinion written by the Chief
Justice in concurrence with the unanimous majority, this decision is
insufficiently distinguishable from official state legal opinion. Judge
Moore's conclusions are based not on American law, but on such concepts as
"sin," "immorality," and "natural order." Neither Alabama nor any other state
has any business deciding what is and is not "sin."
By referring to his own personal religious beliefs and using language and
scriptures specific to Jewish and Christian traditions, Judge Moore has
established a religion over and against those citizens of the state who are
neither Jewish nor Christian as well as the many Jewish and Christian citizens
who are not in agreement with him on matters of sexual orientation, sexual
behavior, gender, and family structure.
Judge Moore's comment on the possible use of state violence to defend the
supposed supremacy of heterosexuality would be disturbing in any context. As
part of a court opinion, rife with religious content, and issued from the
Alabama courthouse on the third anniversary of the murder of a gentle gay
Christian named Billy Jack Gaither, it was completely irresponsible.
IWG Statement Regarding Marriage and the Constitution
Philadelphia, July 11, 2001
The United States Constitution is not a dictionary, a religious document,
or a tool for oppression. The proposed amendment would give the
civil institution of marriage a religious definition that is not shared
by all religions. This is oppressive to religious and governmental
bodies that may wish to define marriage differently, and to gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender Americans who will be denied equal protection
under the law. It would trample on free speech, free exercise of religion,
freedom from the establishment of religion, free association, and the right
to redress for grievances. We are opposed to this misuse of the Constitutional
Amendment process. We support equal civil marriage rights for same-gender
couples, and the right of religious institutions to define religious marriage
Statement Regarding the Public Debate Over Life Partnership Bills
Philadelphia, March 19, 1998
We are alarmed by recent statements concerning the Life Partnership bills
currently under consideration by City Council. As supporters of the
existing constitutional protections in place guaranteeing freedom of
religion, which necessitates religious groups abstaining from certain
activities in the political arena, we are appalled by the extent of
the Catholic Church's direct intervention concerning this legislation. A
certain amount of legislative lobbying is legally permissible for
religious organizations, but the statement from the archdiocese saying "We
will remind our constituents how their council members voted on these
issues" indicates a willingness not only to lobby, but to attempt
to influence elections.
Sexual orientation knows no boundaries of religion, ethnicity, skin color,
national origin or income level. Published comments from many
sources have implied that those who will benefit from the bills are
easily summed up by stereotypes, or that the ordinances will somehow
spontaneously generate sexual minorities in communities where they
did not previously exist.
We strongly disagree that fair and balanced economic treatment for all
people, regardless of the genders of their life-partners, can in any
way be "destructive to our city's moral and social structure." These
proposals are not "expanding the notion of family." They are
simply recognizing existing family structures that have been neglected
by some religious institutions. The government already recognizes
families that some faith-based groups do not, such as interfaith couples
and spouses who have previously married and divorced, as well as
same-gender couples wishing to adopt children. Many religious
institutions also recognize same-gender couples as families.
The Mayor and City Council are charged with doing what is best for the
health and welfare of all people in Philadelphia, not forcing the
religious tenets of some city residents on all her citizens.
IWG Statement Responding to Fred Phelps
Philadelphia, January 30, 1999
Interfaith Working Group
is here today because
a man felt the need
to drag his family across the country to preach hate and inequality.
But we are not here to preach hate in return; we know that you must counter
hate with love. We know that when someone uses their right to free
speech to say something that we disagree with, we must exercise our
free speech, and our freedom of religion, to stand together as people of
many faiths, to counter statements of hatred with acts of love, policies
of exclusion with open doors, and support for institutionalized
inequality with a relentless cry for justice.
There are religious people in the Philadelphia area who work to
promote recognition of the legal and religious equality of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender people, and there are congregations and
religious support groups that welcome all as they are, encouraging faith
and action, and standing together in times of joy and times of sorrow.
We ask everyone to remember that religious people do not speak with
one voice, and we encourage those of who have felt a need for a
religious home, but have seen too much hate and rejection, to accept
the invitation to visit a welcoming congregation, whether it is American
Baptist, Catholic, Conservative Jewish, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal,
the Ethical Society, Evangelical Lutheran, Quaker, Interfaith, the
Metropolitan Community Church, Non-Denominational, Presbyterian,
Reconstructionist Jewish, Reform Jewish, Unitarian Universalist,
United Methodist, or United Church of Christ.
All of these faith traditions are represented in the
Group Welcoming Congregations Brochure,
and most of them plus a
few more are represented on our
letterhead. All of these people of faith
have different theologies; some radically different from each other. And
yet, all of these people, with their different starting points, have still
come to the same conclusion: that sexual minorities deserve the same
civil rights as everyone else.