People of faith continue advocating for the freedom to marry in ballot states

In the 2011-2012 election cycle, when four states have been gearing up for months for marriage-related ballot initiatives at the polls, we've seen more people of faith than ever speaking out in support of the freedom to marry. For these people - people of all religious denominations and affiliations - their support for marriage for same-sex couples is not in conflict with their religious views; in fact, it is often the key reason people say that they support the freedom to marry. All loving couples, religious organizations often argue, should be allowed to express their commitment for each other in a formal, legal way that's respected by the government.

In recent months, we've already seen a diverse array of faith leaders in Washington speak out in support of approving Referendum 74, Minnesota faith leaders urge people to vote NO on the discriminatory marriage amendment, and Catholics in Maine and Maryland organize to pass the ballot measures that would extend the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

The past few weeks have brought out even more support for marriage.

This weekend, 120 Catholics, coordinated by Catholics for Marriage Equality, joined together in Seattle to pray for the passage of Referendum 74 in Washington. Although the Archdiocese of Seattle officially opposes marriage for same-sex couples in Washington, these people are standing up for what they believe in and telling the rest of the country that it is not a contradiction to be a devout Catholic and a supporter of the freedom to marry. One of the parishoners at a Seattle church, John House, told Seattle PI on Sunday:

Catholics believe Christ's primary message is one of love, and Catholic social teaching teaches us that God loves everybody. We are standing up for centuries of Catholic social teaching.

Catholics for Marriage Equality also led the charge to publish a full-page advertisement in a number of WA newspapers, listing the names of 1,000 Catholics who are voting to approve R74.  

In Maryland, many religious people are voicing their support for Question 6, which would end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in the state. One Lutheran Church, for example - St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church - has hung up a sign outside of its property that reads, "Support MARRIAGE EQUALITY." The church's organist explained more about the church's stance: 

It's life. It's our spiritual home. It is acceptance. If you truly believe that Christ, that God, is love ... God's love includes everybody, including lesbians and gays. I want them to see the face of somebody that they know. If they vote yes, that's giving them legitimacy and validity and first-class citizenship. If they vote no, they are telling that person that they're not equal with them. 

Minnesotans United for All Families, the coalition working to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would permanently limit the freedom to marry, has launched a whole "Faith" section of their website, developing key resources and asking dozens of religious institutions in the state to pledge to vote NO on the amendment. 

On Thursday, November 1, the coalition will be sponsoring All Saints: A Day for All Families, an ecumenical worship service where people of faith from congregations across Minnesota will be joined by clergy leaders to worship and listen to the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus to stand together in opposition of the amendment. Find out more HERE.

In Maine last week, Mainers United for Marriage announced that another religious organization - the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick - signed on to pledge Yes on Question 1. Their total now stands at 50 religious organizations and 192 coalition partners. Rev. Stylvia Stocker, the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick congregation, explained in a Mainers United statement:

Three years ago we voted to take a public stand to support marriage equality when it appeared on the ballot then. Our commitment to supporting marriage equality was firm then, and it hasn't wavered.

Freedom to Marry applauds people of faith in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington for their vocal support of the freedom to marry and against discrimination. These people understand that the question of why marriage matters comes down to the Golden Rule - to treat others as you would like to be treated. We thank them for searching in their religion to understand why their faith should compel them to support - not oppose - extending the freedom to marry to all loving and committed couples in these four key states this fall. We appreciate their leadership in the movement to advance the freedom to marry across the country.