Faith leaders from the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine gathered simultaneously today in Portland and Bangor to endorse NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality. Representing 18 faith traditions from Fort Kent to Kittery and from Farmington to Castine, the coalition of active and retired clergy believe that all Maine families should be treated equally under the law.The opposition, Yes on 1, have issued their response:
The coalition, according to its key spokespersons, said only marriage equality confers full dignity and respect to loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. The religious leaders also said they are speaking out so that people of faith know that many faith leaders believe deeply in fully supporting all their congregant families.
“I believe that faithful, lifelong, monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, “ said Rt. Rev. Steven T. Lane, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. “Last spring, the rights and obligations of civil marriage were extended to all Maine citizens. The passage of Question 1 would deny those rights . . . create two classes of citizens and deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.”
“Marriage creates and enhances stable, committed relationships and the sharing of economic resources and responsibility. Marriage nurtures the individual, the couple, and children,” said Rabbi Darrah Lerner of Congregation Beth El in Bangor. “Good marriages benefit our communities and express our religious values of long-term commitment and faithfulness.”
Coalition members also noted that throughout Maine's history, religious liberties have been both valued and protected under the law and that nothing in the new marriage equality law threatens that tradition.
“Religious groups will have the same freedom to act or not act with respect to same-sex unions as they have now,” said Retired United Methodist Pastor and District Superintendent, Rev. Donald Rudalevige, who lives in Cape Elizabeth.
“It is so very important that we affirm the rights of all families in the State of Maine by voting No on 1, for it is my belief that all families are loved by God,” said Rev. Becky Gunn, Pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bangor. “And, all families deserve equal protection under the law.”
"People of all faiths and no faith have the right to take a position on Question 1 and communicate that to the public and to their faithful. This right, I would note, extends as well to the Roman Catholic Church and the more than 600 churches and temples and houses of worship representing many denominations from throughout Maine that support protecting marriage as between a man and a woman.Read the rest here, if you can stomach it.
"The religious groups assembled today to publicly oppose traditional marriage are entitled to their position, but make no mistake that people of faith overwhelming will support Question 1 and the traditional definition of marriage."
"I am sure they have a spiritual basis for wanting this passage to be deleted from state law... perhaps they can further explain that."
At least these people of faith have a perspective on how far their religious beliefs should intrude on others. Unfortunately, despite some resistance from church members, the Catholic Church in Maine is spending more and more money to fight marriage equality while two of five planned parish closings take place in the next few weeks due to lack of funds.
Image by Bridget Brown