Opponents of equality for LGBT people have perpetuated a myth – the myth that people of faith oppose marriage equality. In fact, people of faith and their clergy led the way for marriage equality in our state and continue to lead the was across the nation.
In New Jersey, clergy from 19 different religions, denominations, movements and faith traditions support marriage equality. These supportive clergy members come from an extraordinary range of faith communities: Baptist, Buddhist, Episcopal, Ethical Culture Society members, Interfaith, Jewish (Conservative), Jewish (Reconstructionist), Jewish (Reform), Lutheran, Metropolitan Community Church, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed Church of America, Sankey Tribe, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ and Unity Fellowship Church. Also supporting marriage equality are members of the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers, who do not have clergy.
Garden State Equality has a formidable Clergy Caucus. If you are a clergy member and would like to be to be involved in Garden State Equality, email us at Clergy@GardenStateEquality.org with your name, congregation and phone number, or call us at (973) GSE-LGBT.
If you are a layperson who would like to help organize your congregation to help support the LGBT community, email us at Faith@GardenStateEquality.org with your name, congregation and phone number, or call us at (973) GSE-LGBT.
Clergy are at the heart of Garden State Equality. Six ordained clergy members sit on our Board of Directors. The Chair Emeritus of Garden State Equality is in training for the rabbinate. Four bishops attended Garden State Equality’s 2009 Legends Dinner, our annual gala. And most of Garden State Equality’s public events over the years have taken place in houses of worship into which our members are actively welcomed with open arms.
Clergy have been among the most unrelenting supporters of marriage equality. They know that the bill now before the New Jersey legislature would give same-sex couples guaranteed access to civil marriage, not to religious marriage – in other words, access only to a government marriage license. The bill before the New Jersey legislature actually strengthens the freedom of religion with language that underscores the First Amendment guarantee that religions and clergy will never be forced to perform ceremonies that contradict their beliefs.
Clergy believe that preventing same-sex couples from marrying under State law is an intrusion into their religious practice. Without a marriage equality law, New Jersey has taken away their sacred right as clergy, and the right of their various faiths, to decide for themselves whom they want to marry under State law.
And clergy understand that the marriage law as it stands in the State of New Jersey is not religiously neutral. The current law reflects the religious beliefs of those who oppose allowing same-gender couples to marry, which are not the beliefs of every faith community. A religiously neutral law would leave it up to every religion and every clergy member to marry legally whichever couples they want or don’t want to marry.
Clergy and people of faith see the pain and the hurt that civil unions and inequality have caused the LGBT community every day. Clergy and people of faith are leading the way in advocating the end of discriminatory civil unions, and replacing them with true marriage equality.