Marriage Equality is not just about civil rights, even though those are what they hinge upon. Marriage Equality is also about religious rights. While there are religious organizations like the Roman Catholic Church opposing marriage equality, not all religious leaders and groups are. A letter signed by dozens, if not more than a hundred, clergy voiced their support for marriage equality in Illinois.
Rick Garcia, the Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project, stated “We are heartened that once again mainstream religious leaders in our state stand with the LGBT community. We would not have passed the non discrimination bill or the civil union bill without the strong support of mainstream Protestants and Roman Catholic nuns. In the early days of the effort to pass gay rights in Illinois, Lutheran, Methodist, and episcopal bishops in Illinois and Roman Catholic nuns not only supported our efforts, they were funded by them.”
The letter reads, in full:
We represent people of faith from a variety of faith communities across our state and we strongly support the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. We dedicate our lives to fostering faith and values, and we work daily to promote love, justice, and fairness for all. Standing on these beliefs, we think that it is morally just to grant equal rights and responsibilities to loving, committed same-sex couples. There can be no justification for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Some have misused the name of religion to justify slavery, to deny women the right to vote and to deny marriage to interracial couples – people of goodwill find that unconscionable today. We accept our brothers and sisters and recognize that their relationships and families need equal recognition and protections.
There are differences among our many religious traditions. Some recognize and bless same-sex unions and some do not. The Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act reaffirms the Constitutional guarantee that no religious denomination would be compelled or forced to solemnize any relationship that is outside its faith tradition. It gives equal civil recognition and protections to loving, committed couples. We agree that all Illinois couples should have the same civil protections and urge the public to support measures to achieve equality.
The wide variety of sacred writings and traditions carry the message of love, justice and inclusion of all. The very basis of a marriage is to protect the family, strengthen our communities and emphasize compassion and love. No couple should be excluded from civil protections.
We want to promote the common good — what is best for individuals, couples, families, children, and society. As people of faith and citizens of Illinois, we ask you to stand for the freedom of all our citizens and support marriage equality. It’s not only a matter of equality – it’s a matter of conscience and justice.