Contact: Rev. Tara Wilkins
May 10, 2012
Faith Leaders around the State Applaud President Obama’s support of the Freedom to Marry
(GRESHAM, OREGON) - Faith leaders today celebrate President Obama’s announcement of his view on the freedom to marry. "The President's support for marriage equality is not just good news for the same-sex couples in our congregation as well as this community and throughout our nation, it is good news for all members of God's family concerned about equal rights for their brothers and sisters regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said the Rev. Dr. Daniel E. H. Bryant, Senior Minister,
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Eugene. “As a person of faith, I am grateful to President Obama for coming out this week on the side of marriage equality. In our church we look forward to celebrating the day when all families, straight and LGBTQ, will share the same human rights”, states the Reverend Pamela Shepherd of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ashland.
Faith Leaders across tradition support President Obama’s evolution in his understanding of the freedom to marry for lesbian and gay couples. Rabbi Michael Cahana, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland commented, “I am thrilled to see the President of the United States clearly endorse the values of faith commitment and marriage for all.” Likewise Rabbi Ariel Stone of Congregation Shir Tikvah celebrates, “I salute President Obama's clear support of marriage equality today. As a Rabbi I represent a tradition which celebrates the idea of evolving understanding. Religion is essentially the practice of doing kindness and justice.”
While some congregations oppose the freedom to marry, many congregations have been working for equality for years. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s The Right Reverend Bill Lupfer acknowledges that while President Obama states his support, we are not there yet. “As a Cathedral community, we have been working towards marriage equality for some time and we are very pleased that President Obama is joining us in this effort. We will continue to work and pray until marriage equality is available to all.” Rabbi Debra Kolodny of P’nai Or concurs, “I welcome with delight and appreciation President Obama’s recognition that honoring the commitment of same sex couples with all of the rights and responsibilities that marriage entails is just, ethical and morally correct. I look forward to the day when I can serve as a msaderet kedushin, a wedding officiant, for couples in the state of Oregon, and have their civil status as a married couple be recorded.”
Faith leaders acknowledge the challenge of the widening of an understanding of marriage that includes lesbian and gay couples has been a journey. People of faith in Oregon and Washington have been instrumental to both states enacting legislation that protects all citizens. Measure 36 changed the Oregon State Constitution that now defines marriage in Oregon as between one man and one woman. Support for marriage equality has grown since then. Recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans, including the majority of Catholics now support the freedom to marry. And earlier this year, Washington’s legislature voted for the freedom to marry. The President’s statement is an important milestone and reflects the movement of the country. “The idea that President Obama has "evolved" over the past few years to recognize that ALL Americans deserve to have their committed relationships recognized as Marriage is a momentous occasion for people of faith and those who love them,” states The Rev. Dennis j Parker from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
As the country shifts, so do denominational policies. President Obama’s support sends a message that we are all equal. “Our hope is that the President’s message of support of the freedom to marry will help set a tone that will lead to changes that help keep our LGBT children safer and that will protect all families from discriminatory practices,” states the Reverend Tara Wilkins, Executive Director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations and a United Church of Christ minister.
The Rev. Bill Sinkford, former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association now senior minister at First Unitarian Church in Portland declares, “President Obama’s personal support for Marriage Equality is historic. I celebrate his conclusion, but I also appreciate the candor with which he describes the development of his opinion over time. There can be no more hopeful news than that change is possible, even for our President...even for us all.”
Rabbi Ariel concludes, “God created each of us in the Divine Image, and created in us many diverse ways of being. As we mature as a human race, may we continue to deepen our respect for all the forms of love which bless us.”
The Community of Welcoming Congregations is an interfaith association of religious and spiritual communities who work for the full inclusion and equality of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning. We represent more than 119 members of over 20 denominations and traditions. For more information, see www.welcomingcongregations.org.