Coalition of churches backs marriage equality in Rhode Island

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The Rhode Island State Council of Churches this week called upon state lawmakers to pass, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee to sign marriage equality legislation in 2013.

Ray Sullivan of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage called the Rhode Island State Council of Churches “a beacon of religious tolerance and a strong voice for protecting families in the Ocean State.

The endorsement, he said, “is an important recognition that many Rhode Island faith traditions welcome and affirm same-sex marriages. We welcome the Council to our broad and growing coalition, and look forward to working together to extend the unique protections that only marriage affords to all Rhode Island families.”

The executive minister of the council, the Rev. Don Anderson, said the organization believes marriage equality is about tolerance and freedom.

The council, in its statement, noted that Rhode Island is the only New England state to deny marriage equality to citizens.

The council consists of 12 denominations and six member organizations representing more than 300 churches in the state.

The statement from the council…

Whereas, The General Assembly in Rhode Island has an opportunity to make Marriage Equality unanimous in New England and to become a beacon for the balance of the country, and

Whereas, The faith community represented by the Rhode Island State Council of Churches has a long track record of being a voice of conscience and justice for Civil Rights, and has long embraced the Rhode Island heritage of separation of church and state,

Be it resolved that, The Rhode Island State Council of Churches, seeing compelling issues of social justice involved, calls on the Governor, members of the General Assembly, and citizens of all faith traditions to join with us in calling for the passage of a Marriage Equality bill that affords all the rights and responsibilities of heterosexual couples to same gender couples while, at the same time, protecting the rights of all clergy to follow their consciences and convictions in the exercise of their pastoral responsibilities; and

Be it further resolved that, The Council calls on all people of faith to examine, discern, and share views related to the complex and difficult gender issues related to marriage. We call for mutual respect and guidance that seeks the good of all, even with our different views on this matter. As we live together with disagreement, we encourage traditions, congregations, and, indeed, all persons of faith to accompany each other in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect.