The Open and Affirming Coalition has joined the UCC General Synod and other faith partners in an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold marriage equality as a basic constitutional right.
“Open and Affirming churches have been in the forefront of state campaigns to accord LGBT couples the same legal protection accorded to everyone else,” says Coalition Executive Director Andy Lang. “Our advocacy has flowed from the basic values of the ONA movement–by our vision of the reign of God where no one is excluded, no one is marginalized, everyone is wanted and needed.”
The brief, filed by faith leaders and nearly 2,000 individual clergy, argues that while churches and other faith communities have the freedom to follow their own teachings and practices concerning marriage, religious belief cannot deny equal protection under the law to any citizen. “While Amici [those who signed the Amicus brief] come from faiths that have approached issues affecting lesbian and gay people and their families in different ways over the years, they are united in the belief that, in our vastly diverse and pluralistic society, particular religious views or definitions of marriage should not be permitted to influence which couples’ marriages the state recognizes or permits. Such rights must be determined by religiously neutral principles of equal protection under the law.”
Briefs filed by faith groups opposing marriage equality “failed to explain how their religious practice would be burdened by according other people equal civil marriage rights,” the brief supported by the Coalition said. “Liberty under our Constitution protects such religious practice and speech. But that liberty interest cannot be transformed into a basis for privileging certain such practices and speech at the expense of other citizens’ own fundamental constitutional rights.”
The brief was filed in connection with the most important case the Supreme Court will review–a challenge to Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage. The Court is expected to announce its ruling at the end of June, possibly during the Coalition’s National ONA Gathering in Cleveland.
Besides the Coalition and General Synod, signers included Episcopal bishops, a number of Jewish organizations including the Conservative and Reform movements in Judaism, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.