We represent religious leaders from a broad spectrum of faith traditions that have diverse views on marriage between people of the same sex. However, we are united in our opposition to the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the Constitution to specifically define marriage as only between a man and a woman – a decision that should be left up to individual faith traditions to decide for themselves.
Constitutional amendments should not be used to resolve divisive issues of the moment. Loading down the Constitution with such amendments weakens the integrity of the Constitution and the influence it has as the key document that expresses Americans values and binds our nation together.
Urge senators to oppose passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment, whether that Senate vote is procedural (“cloture”) or on the merits of the Amendment itself.
- The Federal Marriage Amendment would mark the first time in history that an amendment to the Constitution would restrict the rights of an entire group of Americans. Misusing our nation’s most cherished document for this purpose would tarnish America’s proud tradition of expanding citizens’ rights through constitutional amendments, a tradition long supported by America’s faith communities.
- The Amendment would employ a particular religious view of marriage as a tool to deny Americans and their families of over 1,000 federal benefits of marriage, such as health care, hospital visitation, and family medical leave.
- A constitutional definition of marriage would strip same-sex couples of key legal benefits supplied by states and localities, such as domestic partnership benefits.
- Thoughtful people of faith can and do disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage. America’s many religious traditions reflect this diversity of opinion. But each religious denomination should decide, based on its own doctrines and teachings, whether or not to sanctify marriages of same-sex couples.
- It is not the federal government’s role to prefer one religious definition of marriage over another, much less to codify this preference in the Constitution and impose that definition on all Americans by constitutional fiat.
- Our nation’s founders adopted the First Amendment and the separation of religion and state because they understood the dangers of allowing government to have control over religious doctrine and decisions. Politicians should not assert control over the doctrine and practice of America’s diverse faith communities.
- 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.
- Some have argued that a constitutional amendment is necessary to ensure that clergy will never be forced to recognize marriages of same-sex couples against their will. This is entirely wrong. This kind of coercion is forbidden by the First Amendments, which protects houses of worship to make any decision in performing rites of religion consistent with faith traditions. The First Amendment is the only protection of religious autonomy, including decisions regarding marriage, that America needs.
- Congress must continue to protect America’s fundamental religious freedoms and continue to protect America’s bedrock principle of respecting religious pluralism.