A large coalition of Indiana clergy members and religious denominations will formally announce their opposition today to the state's proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. In a surprise twist on the usual religious right's justification for openly advocating discrimination against a minority group, these ministers say that the amendment would restrict their religious freedom and could set a dangerous precedent.
The group will hold a press conference today at the Indiana statehouse to release an open letter to legislators.
People of different faith traditions disagree on marriage-related issues. However, each of us who signs this letter respects the right of religious groups to decide whether or not to sanction marriage or other unions of same-gender couples. The Indiana Bill of Rights guarantees the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, and prevents the giving of a legal preference to any creed. Preferring and codifying one particular religious view of marriage in the Indiana Constitution flies in the face of both of these guarantees.
The drafters of the Indiana Constitution included six provisions in Bill of Rights that seek, in various ways, to ensure that the government does not interfere with, or direct, religious beliefs or practices. We ask you to respect this grant of religious freedom and allow Indiana's various faith communities to continue to discern their individual paths with respect to same-gender marriage or other same-gender unions.
While noting that some Indiana churches like the Episcopal and Presbyterian denominations bless same-sex unions, the group includes some denominations that won't see marriage equality doctrine any time soon as well as non-Christian faiths. Signatory denominations include the Alliance of Baptists, Metropolitan Community Churches, United Church of Christ, Community of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Unity, and Native Americans along with independent churches and individual faith communities from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Society of Friends, and Christian Church Disciples of Christ. Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Reform Judaism communities have also joined the coalition.
An independent poll released last week showed that 58% of Indiana residents oppose the amendment, but a sizable minority still believe that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry. Senior Indiana lawmakers will meet this week to decide the priorities for the upcoming legislative session and marriage equality supporters are anxiously awaiting word on whether or not they'll need to continue their battle into next year.