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Official Interfaith Working Group Statements

Judge Ray Moore
Marriage and the Constitution
Life Partnership
Fred Phelps

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 for themselves.

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

The 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 Interfaith Working 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.









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