Kentucky faith leaders speak up for the freedom to marry in the Bluegrass State

Yesterday, May 19, a diverse group of faith leaders from Kentucky launched Kentucky Faith Leaders for Marriage, an effort to show that clergy members and people of faith across the Commonwealth of Kentucky support marriage because of their faith, not in spite of it.

In part, their statement reads: 

Every individual and every family has the God-given right to be treated with dignity and respect. We believe in loving our neighbors, standing by our community members, and treating each other as we would want to be treated – which certainly includes granting all couples the freedom to marry.

On the steps of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, more than a dozen faith leaders representing numerous faith traditions and denominations shared their personal stories and faith-based conviction about why marriage matters – for all loving and committed couples.

In Kentucky, a federal judge ruled in February in Bourke v. Beshear that Kentucky must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states, and Attorney General Jack Conway has announced that he would not defend marriage discrimination in his state. This year, Southerners for the Freedom to Marry launched in partnership with the Fairness Campaign in Kentucky to grow public support for marriage in South, including Kentucky.

Southerners for the Freedom to Marry co-chair Djuan Trent, the former Miss Kentucky (right), also attended the event. 

Watch footage from the event:

Here’s what some of the clergy members from Kentucky had to say about the freedom to marry:

Rev. Bojangles Blanchard

"As an openly gay Baptist minister, born and raised in the South, I know intimately that the struggle of same-sex couples for the freedom to marry is a moral one. At it's foundation, it is a struggle for equality that resonates across faith, gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. The Gospel of Jesus Christ bears witness to a loving and inclusive G-D that affirms all humanity as inherently equal and deserving of justice. I am therefore proud to stand along side countless other people of faith in supporting the full equality of same-sex couples and their freedom to marry in the state of Kentucky."

Reverend Colleen Foley • Metropolitan Community Church of Louisville

Our denomination was founded on the belief that we are ALL God's beloved children - equally deserving of respect, fairness and equality. I recently moved from Maryland, where voters legalized Same-Sex Marriage in 2012. My congregants who want to be legally married are driving more than 600 miles to Maryland for a civil ceremony. I am saddened that Kentucky residents don't have the freedom to marry in their home state. The time for marriage equality is now.

Reverend Derek Penwell • Senior Minister at Douglass Blvd Christian Church, Louisville KY

As faith leaders, our support of the freedom to marry is but another expression of our belief that God created us all equal, and that we who claim to worship God have perhaps an even greater responsibility to work toward justice for everyone… We stand together in support of the freedom to marry for all Kentuckians as an affirmation that God desires fairness not just for some, but for everyone. We are all God’s children.

Rev. Dr. Mumford • Frank H. Caldwell Associate Professor of Homiletics, Louisville Seminary

The writers of the Declaration of Independence acknowledged that all people are created by God. Yet, throughout this nation’s history, those in power, including the authors of the Declaration of Independence, have denied certain populations some of the inalienable rights that the document states are endowed to them by their creator - God.

Women, African Americans, and native Americas - just to name a few were – have historically treated like second class citizens. They were required to follow the law like all everyone else - but were not privy to equal protections, rights, and privileges under the law. Marriage is an inalienable right that should be available to all because we were all created equally by the same God. By granting the right to marriage equality to lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, and gay people the United States will come one step closer to living into the true meaning of its creed.

Learn more about Southerners for the Freedom to Marry