Rhode Island State Council of Churches Votes to Endorse Marriage Equality
For Immediate Release: January 31, 2013
Contact: Devin Driscoll
Contact: Don Anderson
Mobile: (541) 729-6159 – Driscoll
Mobile: (401) 578-0833 - Anderson
PROVIDENCE – Calling it an issue social justice, civil rights and conscience, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches called upon the General Assembly to pass, and Governor Chafee to sign, marriage equality legislation this session.
“The Rhode Island State Council of Churches has long been a beacon of religious tolerance and a strong voice for protecting families in the Ocean State,” said Ray Sullivan, Rhode Islanders United for Marriage campaign director. “Their endorsement is an important recognition that many Rhode Island faith traditions welcome and affirm same-sex marriages. We welcome the Council to our broad and growing coalition, and look forward to working together to extend the unique protections that only marriage affords to all Rhode Island families.”
“We believe this is an issue of tolerance and religious liberty. While there is broad diversity within communities of faith on this issue, many traditions choose to welcome same-sex relationships to the covenant of marriage,” said Rev. Dr. Don Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches. “Under current law, those open and affirming traditions are unable to do so in Rhode Island. While No church or clergy would be required by this law to contradict the teachings of their particular faith, the State Council of Churches believes those congregations who wish to perform same-sex marriages should be able to do so.”
The statement passed by the Council, which can be found below, noted Rhode Island is the only state in the region which does not extend marriage rights to all its loving and committed couples, and called on the General Assembly to quickly pass a marriage equality bill.
It also recognized the diversity of opinion within the faith community on the issue, calling for “mutual respect and guidance that seeks the good of all, even with our different views.”
“On behalf of the more than 140 members of the clergy who make up the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, I thank the Council for its support and welcome its members to our cause,” said coalition chair Reverend Gene Dyszlewski. “Giving all Rhode Islanders full access to marriage is an opportunity to remove roadblocks to pastoral care for those faith traditions that welcome and affirm same-sex relationships. I look forward to working with members of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches to help make that vision a reality in the Ocean State.”
The Rhode Island State Council of Churches consists of 12 denominations and six member organizations, representing over 300 churches. The Council’s vision is a Rhode Island in which all faith communities come together to build understanding and to work for peace and justice.
A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE AND JUSTICE
A Statement by the Rhode Island State Council of Churches Regarding Marriage Equality
Whereas, The General Assembly in Rhode Island has an opportunity to make Marriage Equality unanimous in New England and to become a beacon for the balance of the country, and
Whereas, The faith community represented by the Rhode Island State Council of Churches has a long track record of being a voice of conscience and justice for Civil Rights, and has long embraced the Rhode Island heritage of separation of church and state,
Be it resolved that, The Rhode Island State Council of Churches, seeing compelling issues of social justice involved, calls on the Governor, members of the General Assembly, and citizens of all faith traditions to join with us in calling for the passage of a Marriage Equality bill that affords all the rights and responsibilities of heterosexual couples to same gender couples while, at the same time, protecting the rights of all clergy to follow their consciences and convictions in the exercise of their pastoral responsibilities; and
Be it further resolved that, The Council calls on all people of faith to examine, discern, and share views related to the complex and difficult gender issues related to marriage. We call for mutual respect and guidance that seeks the good of all, even with our different views on this matter. As we live together with disagreement, we encourage traditions, congregations, and, indeed, all persons of faith to accompany each other in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect.