Interfaith group of Arizona clergy speak in support of the freedom for all couples to marry

***STATEMENTS FROM TONIGHT’S EVENT***

Interfaith group of Arizona clergy speak in support of the freedom for all couples to marry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CONTACT: Jeremy Zegas, Project Director, Why Marriage Matters Arizona, jeremy@whymarriagemattersarizona.org, 602-773-6009

PHOENIX, TUCSON and FLAGSTAFF—This evening clergy from across Arizona gathered to voice their support for the freedom for all couples to be able to marry.

This interfaith group of about two dozen from Phoenix, Flagstaff and southern Arizona came together to share their beliefs in order to counter the misconception that people of faith are opposed to same-sex marriage. These religious leaders also wanted to share their common belief that the freedom for same-sex couples to marry strengthens our nation’s guarantee of freedom of religious belief.

The following are excerpts of some of the statements made by clergy during tonight’s event.

Rev. John C. Dorhauer, Conference Minister for the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ (Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas): “As people of faith, we can often come across as monolithic. We hope that we can begin to help people understand that within all of the traditions represented here there is clear and strong support for marriage for same sex couples. We hope we can help our communities see that our clear support for the freedom to marry derives from the teachings of our faith and our sacred writings and is not arrived at in opposition to those teachings. We believe that the creator’s love is freely offered to all. We believe that our creator endows us with intellect, will and passion—and does so without discrimination. We believe that there is something beautiful, sacred and divine in the mutual sharing of love. We celebrate the many ways in which families come together and find with each other a joy that overcomes sorrow, a hope that diminishes despair, an endurance that outlasts trials and tribulations that come in any relationship. We are confident that the good people of Arizona, people of faith and people of no faith, desire to see families so composed for love and sustenance to be safe-guarded from laws written to deny them the equal protection afforded all other couples and families.”

Rev. Troy Mendez, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix, speaking on behalf of Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona: “At the core of our beliefs as Christians is the assertion that we are called to not only love God, but we are also told to love our neighbor as ourselves—to wish our neighbor the greatest good, opportunity and the greatest ability to fully experience everything life has to offer. Opening our churches and our society to celebrate committed gay and lesbian couples as they stand before God, before family, friends and the entire community only strengthens God’s presence of love among us. … Marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and marriage for all committed couples, is an inherently Christian value that furthers God’s actions in the world. … I am calling for all churches in Arizona to prayerfully consider how they can work to further the loving actions of a loving God in the midst of their congregations and communities, and to actively advocate for all people to receive the protections and responsibilities that marriage affords them. What God joins, let no one put asunder.”

Rabbi Thomas A. Louchheim, Congregation Or Chadash in Tucson: “There are some who read the Hebrew Scriptures and use it as a weapon to bolster their own opinion about who will and will not be allowed in holy places or be able to partake in holy rituals. On the contrary, the bible … goes to great lengths in describing how it can be possible to allow everyone in and give opportunities to participate. It is through acts of love, charity and kindness that God’s presence is manifest among us. … Gay and lesbians who wish to solemnize their relationship by kiddushim desire to be recognized by all in being able to embody the divine principles of Scripture. When they desire to mark their partnership through ceremony as one of love, as one of faithfulness, as one of kindness and support for another, this is already recognized by God and should be recognized by us.”

Rev. Kathleen Day, United Church of Christ Campus Minister, Northern Arizona University: “We are called to lift up relationships defined by respect, love and mutual commitment to help one another with their goals and dreams and to bear one another’s burdens with grace and respect. I am reminded of the prophet Micah in the Old Testament: ‘What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with your God?’ I believe that means to treat people kindly and fairly and not to presume to disqualify who is in God’s loving care. … I stand with those inside and outside of the church who seek to make our civil liberties and privileges available to all citizens of our state; including the right to marry. I do so remembering the words of Jesus: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30) I cannot justify with my faith not affording two people the same privileges of blessing and rights that I have enjoyed with my husband, and that the church and state willing offers to other heterosexual couples.”

To interview faith leaders who took part in tonight’s event, or for photos, contact Jeremy Zegas, Project Director, Why Marriage Matters Arizona, jeremy@whymarriagemattersarizona.org, 602-773-6009.