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Commentary :: GLBT/Queer : Human Rights : Social Welfare
Federal Marriage Amendment
05 Jun 2006
Modified: 10:45:42 PM
Joint Letter from National Religious Groups

Opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment

A group letter, found at the ‘Clergy for Fairness’ website, with additional links and comments:

Dear Senator:

As leaders representing many of the diverse perspectives on religion in our nation, we are writing to urge you to oppose passage of the “Federal Marriage Amendment.” Although we have differing opinions on rights for same-sex couples, we believe the Federal Marriage Amendment reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil rights and ignores differences among our nation’s many religious traditions. It should be rejected.

Few decisions by religious bodies are more central than who can take part in important religious rituals or services, including marriage. Fortunately, the Constitution bars any court or legislature from requiring any religious institution or person to perform marriage ceremonies for anyone. Indeed, the Constitution protects houses of worship in their freedom to limit marriages on whatever theological grounds they choose. The First Amendment already protects religious organizations from governmental interference in such matters, and constitutional definitions of marriage therefore are unnecessary.

Regardless of judicial and legislative decisions defining the legal rights of gay couples, religious marriage will justly remain the prerogative of individual faith traditions in accordance with their doctrinal beliefs. And this is as it should be. It is not the task of our government and elected representatives to enshrine in our laws the religious point of view of any one faith. Rather, our government should dedicate itself to protecting the rights of all citizens and all faiths.

For over two hundred years, the Constitution has had no provision on marriage, the matter being left to the states and the teachings of various religious groups. Our nation’s founders adopted the First Amendment precisely because they foresaw the dangers posed by allowing government to have control over religious decisions. The religious freedom protected by the First Amendment has allowed religious practice and pluralism to flourish. Respecting the rights of those in the faith community who deem sacred text consistent with the blessing of same-sex relationships protects and ensures that freedom.

We are particularly concerned that this proposal to amend the Constitution would, for the first time, restrict the civil rights of millions of Americans. That concern alone merits rejection of the Federal Marriage Amendment. We strongly believe that Congress must continue to protect the nation’s fundamental religious freedoms and continue to protect our nation’s bedrock principle of respecting religious pluralism. Congress should soundly reject any attempt to enshrine into the Constitution a particular religious viewpoint on a matter of such fundamental religious importance.


Alliance of Baptists
American Friends Service Committee (Quaker)
American Jewish Committee
Anti-Defamation League
Association of Humanistic Rabbis
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Christians for Justice Action
Disciples Justice Action Network
Episcopal Church, USA
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker)
Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (Sikh)
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
National Council of Jewish Women
National Sikh Center
Metropolitan Community Churches
Protestant Justice Action
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE)
The Interfaith Alliance
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism

Other Organizations in Unison:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS)

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

People for the American Way (PFAW)

If, as they say, marriage is at its heart a religious institution, then isn't regulating of marriage a regulation of religion? Don't the Unitarians have the religious right to marry gay people if their religion deems it appropriate? Can the government also tell the Jews when to give a Bar Mitzvah?

A Letter Considering the Amendment:

The proposed Federal Marriage Amendment - recently approved in a closed-door session of the Senate Judiciary Committee - is a flagrant disregard of The Constitution and is, at the very least, more wrongdoing at the highest levels of Government.

Altering our nations founding documents to endorse discrimination is the antithesis of our American Heritage - a heritage that includes tolerance.

As the definitive source of protection for our freedoms and individual rights, The Constitution is clear on making laws "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” and “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The addition of this proposed Federal Marriage Amendment will do both, establish religious bigotry as law and “deny and disparage other rights retained by the people.” People have a right to love who they choose to love. By denying people the basic right to love, cherish and have a family, no matter how that family is structured, the American people will be saying that discrimination and bigotry is our creed.

I appeal to each and every one of you to please do your part to prevent religious folly from becoming black-letter law in the United States. Tell everyone you meet on the street and all your friends.

~ End

Other Input:

Americans consider their Constitution a “sanctuary” from tyranny. It is the “most holy place” of fair and just society.

The “Federal Marriage Amendment” is an abomination to the “sanctuary” of Liberty, Equality, Acceptance & Prosperity (LEAP), in that will bring desolation to who support it, as well as those who oppose it.

Think of the irony involved in using the issue of gay marriage to completely tear down the wall that should separate church & state and prevent such insidious, partisan, nation-destroying, schemes that tamper with liberty and the golden rule.

If Americans allow their Constitution to be weakened by volatile amendments that will ultimately deny redress of grievances, and set a dangerous precedent that will most assuredly lead to restrictions for other groups that are not in line with religious rites and the Religious Right, they are a doomed bunch of masochists.

[I would like to hear from those who support the amendment. I hope they are in the spirit of “Come, let us reason together.” Love me, or leave me, or hate me with a passion to disprove me.]

Even groups that are opposed to gay marriage are also opposed to setting a dangerous constitutional precedent. They would rather the states or communities decide individually on issues of religious morality.

Next week it would be Sunday closing laws... in honor of the religious day of rest.

Canadians can be sure that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has similar motives to approach their Constitution in the same manner.
See also:

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