Sunday, June 21, 2009

Faith leaders as allies in marriage equality fight

Two studies analyze the interface of religion and marriage equality and the role of faith leaders in the fight. From NGLTF, a discussion of the common issues identified:
#Anti-LGBT ballot initiatives are often rooted in conservative religious rhetoric. Effective responses require faith voices and messages to counteract these claims in order to show religious diversity in support of marriage equality and to disprove the notion that conservative religious voices are the sole guardians of morality on these issues.

#Secular-religious partnerships are crucial to the success of legislative campaigns and to the broader goals of social justice and equal rights under the law for LGBT people.

#Advocates should not write off certain religious communities as impossible to win nor overlook any "unlikely" allies, be it the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church or African-American churches. While some communities may have official pronouncements against marriage equality and campaign against it, almost always there are members within that community who by conscience have different views.

#A narrow political campaign frame hinders effective collaboration with religious communities. LGBT faith advocates and supporters must work within their denominations for full support of LGBT rights, including marriage equality and adoption by same-sex couples.

#Media work that takes seriously the language and culture of religious people is critical. It is crucial to quickly rebut inaccurate religious arguments and misleading statements from anti-equality forces. Furthermore, the message of LGBT rights should be framed in a mainstream way so that people feel connected to the issue. In addition, non-LGBT organizations, such as civil and human rights and faith groups, should be sought as campaign allies.

Another issue is defending religious rights explicitly. Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson comments
"I do think that inclusion of language protecting religious institutions was key to our success here in New Hampshire. While those protections technically, already existed in the law, the restatement of those protections in the new marriage equality law undercut most of the opposition's arguments based on religion."

....same-sex marriage supporters "were very careful to teach the public about the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage." He noted that, "When a divorce is sought, you don't go back to the church or synagogue" where the marriage was performed.

Additionally, other faith leaders have spoken out to describe gay marriage as a "theological necessity".

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