During the historic 7 hours of testimony on marriage equality in December, most if not all of the testimony against reforming our laws on marriage were religious arguments. They said, in essence:
I believe this, so therefore, your rights should be limited, because my belief tradition tells me they should.
News coverage focused on those people (even though plenty clergy in favor showed up), who while they feel strongly, were trying to apply private beliefs to public civic questions, claiming equality would endanger their religious freedom. In fact the reverse is true; clergy who are accepting and ready to perform marriage for same-sex couples cannot do that now. And opponents are only a slice of where New Jersey’s faith community is on marriage equality. A letter – with a far broader representation New Jersey’s religious leaders – in strong support of marriage equality, and signed by 120 clergy from 19 faiths, was sent today to Senate President Dick Codey and Speaker Joe Roberts. The letter asks that both leaders put the marriage equality bill to a vote before their full respective houses in this legislative session, without precondition.
It’s a good letter; tough and direct. It points out that New Jersey’s current marriage law is not religiously neutral but reflects the beliefs of leaders of a particular religion opposing marriage equality. And stands behind Republican Senator Bill Baroni’s amendment to even further strengthen strong protections for religious freedom – ensuring no religious organization or facility can be sued because it follows its own conscience in which marriages it will accommodate, and which it will not. That America has never let one religious doctrine determine secular law, pointing out – as Asm Reed Gusciora did in his Dec. 7 testimony – that the state provides for divorce even though some traditions find it impermissible, and that New Jersey would never ban civil divorce.
And then it gently asks the state to “get out of our sanctuaries and uphold our religious freedom as clergy to marry whom we wish, or don’t wish, under State law.”
Full letter’s under the fold. Is your family’s faith tradition on this list? Or its leaders?