Bishops Praise Vatican Statement on Denying Marriage Equality

Bishops’ Head Welcomes Vatican Statement
on Legal Recognition of Unions
Between Homosexual Persons

www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2003/03-158.shtml

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2003) — Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), welcomed the Vatican document entitled “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons.” He urged Catholics and all persons of good will to give the document serious and thoughtful attention.

The document was prepared by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and made public by the Vatican July 31.

It declares that “legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.”

“By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties,” the document says.

“If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibilities as politicians,” the document asserts.

“When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it.” When such legislation is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in those ways that are possible, the document states.

In his statement, Bishop Gregory said: “These considerations are intended to re-express the Church’s teachings about the unique character of marriage and its place and role in society.”

“In affirming the teaching which has been consistent in law for centuries, the ‘Considerations’ opposes the legalization of homosexual unions and the granting to such relationships the legal equivalence of marriage,” Bishop Gregory continued. “With the purpose of protecting the common good and preserving the family, the document affirms

‘There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’”

Establishing a legal equivalence between marriage and homosexual relationships “not only weakens the unique meaning of marriage; it also weakens the role of law itself by forcing the law to violate the truth of marriage and family as the natural foundation of society and culture,” Bishop Gregory said.

“At the same time that these ‘Considerations’ testify to the uniqueness of marriage they also continue to teach clearly about the respect due homosexual persons and condemn all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse toward men and women with homosexual tendencies,” Bishop Gregory stated. “Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the document affirms that they ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.’ Moral truth, the document states, is contradicted ‘both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.’”

“Because there is an effort underway in many places to legalize homosexual unions, the ‘Considerations’ draws out the implications for Catholics as they engage the society in which they live,” Bishop Gregory continued. “Catholics must refrain from ‘any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application’ of laws that give the legal status and rights belonging to marriage to homosexual unions. Catholic politicians, in particular, must oppose such laws when they are proposed.”

“Given both the truth and the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage, I urge all Catholics and all men and women of good will to give the most serious and thoughtful attention to these ‘Considerations.’ Because the human intellect is naturally drawn to the truth, as the human heart is drawn by nature to the good, I am confident that many a careful reader will see the wisdom of what is proposed in this document, including many who may think otherwise at first.”

Below is the full text of Bishop Gregory’s statement:

Statement by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory

I welcome the document issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons.” These considerations are intended to re-express the Church’s teachings about the unique character of marriage and its place and role in society. Drawing on the teachings of natural law and the history of cultural traditions, as well as the constant teaching of the Church, the document recognizes marriage as a life-long covenant between a man and a woman.

It affirms that by their mutual commitment to one another and by their openness to cooperating in God’s act of creation, a husband and wife bring forth the family as the foundation of society and culture. The truth of marriage is beautifully and properly characterized as a caring and loving relation between a husband and a wife who fulfill themselves as persons by complementing one another in domestic life and in the natural creation of new life.

In affirming the teaching which has been consistent in law for centuries, the “Considerations” opposes the legalization of homosexual unions and the granting to such relationships the legal equivalence of marriage. With the purpose of protecting the common good and preserving the family, the document affirms, “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

The document goes on to note the danger of establishing a legal equivalence between marriage and homosexual relationships as has happened both in Europe and in North America. This equivalence not only weakens the unique meaning of marriage; it also weakens the role of law itself by forcing the law to violate the truth of marriage and family as the natural foundation of society and culture. Although the majority in the recent Supreme Court decision, Lawrence vs. Texas, was careful to make clear that this case did not involve the question of whether the government must formally recognize homosexual relationships, the tone of the decision gave reason to be concerned.

At the same time that these “Considerations” testify to the uniqueness of marriage they also continue to teach clearly about the respect due homosexual persons and condemn all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse toward men and women with homosexual tendencies. Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the document affirms that they “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” Moral truth, the document states, is contradicted “both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.”

Because there is an effort underway in many places to legalize homosexual unions, the “Considerations” draws out the implications for Catholics as they engage the society in which they live. Catholics must refrain from “any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application” of laws that give the legal status and rights belonging to marriage to homosexual unions. Catholic politicians, in particular, must oppose such laws when they are proposed. Where such laws exist, if they cannot be completely repealed, Catholic politicians may act in accord with the principles stated in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995) and support proposals aimed at limiting the harmful effects of such laws, as long as the legislator’s own absolute personal opposition to these laws is clear and apparent to all.

Given both the truth and the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage, I urge all Catholics and all men and women of good will to give the most serious and thoughtful attention to these “Considerations.” Because the human intellect is naturally drawn to the truth, as the human heart is drawn by nature to the good, I am confident that many a careful reader will see the wisdom of what is proposed in this document, including many who may think otherwise at first.

__________________________________
Office of Communications
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Person

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS
TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION
TO UNIONS
BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS
July 31, 2003

INTRODUCTION

1. In recent years, various questions relating to homosexuality have been addressed with some frequency by Pope John Paul II and by the relevant Dicasteries of the Holy See.(1) Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children. The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present Considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience.(2) Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.

I. THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE
AND ITS INALIENABLE CHARACTERISTICS

2. The Church’s teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose.(3) No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

3. The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation, an expression also of the original human wisdom, in which the voice of nature itself is heard. There are three fundamental elements of the Creator’s plan for marriage, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.

In the first place, man, the image of God, was created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Sexuality is something that pertains to the physical-biological realm and has also been raised to a new level – the personal level – where nature and spirit are united.

Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).

Third, God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator’s plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.

Furthermore, the marital union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). This Christian meaning of marriage, far from diminishing the profoundly human value of the marital union between man and woman, confirms and strengthens it (cf. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9).

4. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(4)

Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.(7) They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered”(9) and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.(10)

II. POSITIONS ON THE PROBLEM
OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

5. Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favour giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.

Where the government’s policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem. Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

III. ARGUMENTS FROM REASON AGAINST LEGAL
RECOGNITION OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

6. To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration.

From the order of right reason

The scope of the civil law is certainly more limited than that of the moral law,(11) but civil law cannot contradict right reason without losing its binding force on conscience.(12) Every humanly-created law is legitimate insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person.(13) Laws in favour of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex. Given the values at stake in this question, the State could not grant legal standing to such unions without failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.

It might be asked how a law can be contrary to the common good if it does not impose any particular kind of behaviour, but simply gives legal recognition to a de facto reality which does not seem to cause injustice to anyone. In this area, one needs first to reflect on the difference between homosexual behaviour as a private phenomenon and the same behaviour as a relationship in society, foreseen and approved by the law, to the point where it becomes one of the institutions in the legal structure. This second phenomenon is not only more serious, but also assumes a more wide-reaching and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good. Civil laws are structuring principles of man’s life in society, for good or for ill. They “play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour”.(14) Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation’s perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.

From the biological and anthropological order

7. Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involving a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.

Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.

As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.

From the social order

8. Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children. If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.

The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice.(16) The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.

Nor can the principle of the proper autonomy of the individual be reasonably invoked. It is one thing to maintain that individual citizens may freely engage in those activities that interest them and that this falls within the common civil right to freedom; it is something quite different to hold that activities which do not represent a significant or positive contribution to the development of the human person in society can receive specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfil the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.

From the legal order

9. Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not need specific attention from the legal standpoint since they do not exercise this function for the common good.

Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest. It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society.(17)

IV. POSITIONS OF CATHOLIC POLITICIANS
WITH REGARD TO LEGISLATION IN FAVOUR
OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

CONCLUSION

11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003, Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions, Martyrs.

Joseph Card. Ratzinger Prefect

Angelo Amato, S.D.B. Titular Archbishop of Sila Secretary

——————————————————————————–

NOTES

(1) Cf. John Paul II, Angelus Messages of February 20, 1994, and of June 19, 1994; Address to the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Family (March 24, 1999); Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2357-2359, 2396; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana (December 29, 1975), 8; Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986); Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons (July 24, 1992); Pontifical Council for the Family, Letter to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe on the resolution of the European Parliament regarding homosexual couples (March 25, 1994); Family, marriage and “de facto” unions (July 26, 2000), 23.

(2) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life (November 24, 2002), 4.

(3) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 48.

(4) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357.

(5) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana (December 29, 1975), 8.

(6) Cf., for example, St. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians, V, 3; St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 27, 1-4; Athenagoras, Supplication for the Christians, 34.

(7) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986), 10.

(8) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2359; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986), 12.

(9) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358.

(10) Ibid., No. 2396.

(11) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 71.

(12) Cf. ibid., 72.

(13) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 95, a. 2.

(14) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 90.

(15) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae (February 22, 1987), II. A. 1-3.

(16) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 63, a.1, c.

(17) It should not be forgotten that there is always “a danger that legislation which would make homosexuality a basis for entitlements could actually encourage a person with a homosexual orientation to declare his homosexuality or even to seek a partner in order to exploit the provisions of the law” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons [July 24, 1992], 14).

(18) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 73.

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Soulforce and Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation Commend ELCA Youth for Their Stand on Homosexuality

Youth are encouraged to join in the vigils and leafleting outside the ELCA Churchwide Assembly August 11-17

***************************************************
Soulforce Press Release: July 29, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
****************************************************

The National Lutheran Youth Organization, an official youth office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), voted overwhelmingly to welcome people of all sexual orientations as members. Delegates also adopted a resolution supporting the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of non-celibate individuals of all sexual orientations in committed relationships. The ELCA currently will not ordain non-celibate homosexuals as pastors.

The Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation and Soulforce, Inc. commend the youth office for taking this stand, and encourage the youth of the ELCA to join with them in vigiling, leafleting, and nonviolence trainings throughout the week of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, August 11-17.

By a 91% margin, the youth organization also voted to be listed as a “Reconciling in Christ” organization with Lutherans Concerned/North America, an independent group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Lutherans, and one of the coalition groups of the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation.

“The youth are clearly leading the way to full acceptance of GLBT persons in the life of our church,” said Jeannine Janson, Co-chair of Lutherans Concerned/North America. “They are modeling the ELCA as it will be; the question is simply when.”

The Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation, which includes Lutherans Concerned/North America, Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, the Lutheran Network for Inclusive Vision, and Wingspan Ministries, and Soulforce, Inc, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, will be present at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, August 11-17, leafleting and vigiling during the week to be a visible presence at the Assembly.

Trainings in nonviolence will be held each day as well, culminating in a rally and nonviolent direct action training on Thursday evening August 14, at Calvary Presbyterian, 935 West Wisconsin Ave, in Milwaukee. The Churchwide Assembly is being held at the Midwest Express Center, 400 West Wisconsin Avenue.

Everyone is welcome to vigil; however, individuals must have taken part in a Soulforce training in order to participate in any possible direct action.

“I look forward to the day when I will be accepted fully into the ELCA for who I am, and be allowed to fully participate in the life of the church,” declared Jake Reitan, young adult coordinator for Soulforce. “I am so glad, as a young adult, a member of the ELCA, and a volunteer for Soulforce, that we can all work together to make that day become a reality.”

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

——————
Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc
Laura@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

Soulforce Responds to Pat Robertson’s Prayer Campaign and Encourages "Active" Participation to Ensure Equality for All People

Press Release, July 17, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org

On Monday, July 14, 2003, televangelist Pat Robertson launched a campaign to encourage his audience to pray for the early retirement of several Supreme Court justices. This “prayer offensive” is in response to the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court overturning both the Texas sodomy law in Lawrence v Texas and the 1986 Supreme Court decision in the Bowers v Hardwick case that upheld Georgia sodomy laws.

Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people issued the following statement:

“Asking people to pray for the retirement of Supreme Court justices after the Court overturned the Texas sodomy law, Pat Robertson is, in fact, fueling anti-gay religious bigotry that leads to discrimination, prejudice and spiritual violence.

In the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, the Supreme Court justices awarded to all people what was rightfully theirs to begin with, as the government never belonged in anyone’s bedroom in the first place.

Obviously, Pat Robertson and other religious right conservatives feel they need the US Supreme Court to be able to implement their interpretation of Biblical law in the United States, despite the fact that the laws of the United States are based on the Constitution – not the Bible.

The “miracle” Pat Robertson seeks is, in essence, hoping his God will interfere to undermine equality for people that do not agree with him. And now, Pat Robertson’s anti-gay bias and prejudice not only extends to gays and lesbians, but to Supreme Court justices as well.

We believe this “prayer offensive” is Pat Robertson’s way to continue to fuel anti-gay bigotry disguised as religion. GLBT people and allies should be concerned about conservatives’ attempts to undermine equality and fuel anti-gay bigotry, whatever form it takes.

We believe that the best way to counter this anti-gay bigotry is to take an ACTIVE role to ensure equality for all people, such as getting involved in local Soulforce or PFLAG groups, calling congress people about legislation, contacting elected officials to hold them accountable for their stand on equality, donating to organizations and churches that support GLBT rights, and refusing to be complicit in one’s own oppression.

And despite what Pat Robertson believes, we know that God loves GLBT people just the way we are and that equality for all people will someday be realized.”

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

——————
Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc
Laura@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

Soulforce to Join With Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation at ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee, August 11-17, 2003

Vigils, Leaflettings, and Trainings to Take Place All Week Long

Press Release, July 17, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org

(Lynchburg, VA) – Soulforce will be at Evangelical Church in America Churchwide Assembly, August 11-17, at the request of the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation. The Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation is made up of 5 member organizations, including Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries, the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, Lutherans Concerned/North America, the Lutheran Network for Inclusive Vision, and Wingspan Ministries.

The request for Soulforce to be at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly was made because it is thought that there may be an attempt to delay the final report of the study on homosexuality scheduled to be released in 2005, thereby postponing the decision on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians into the full ministry of the church.

"Those of us who are sexual minority Lutherans are baptized Christians, not objects to be studied or issues to be decided at some far-off future date," declared Dr. Mari Irvin, Co-Chair of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries. "The ELCA is our spiritual home; we are here to stay as full participants in all aspects of the mission and life of our church."

Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, will be standing with the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation both inside and outside the meeting leafleting and vigiling.

Trainings in nonviolence will be held each day as well, culminating in a rally and nonviolent civil disobedience training on Thursday evening near the Convention Center at Calvary Presbyterian, 935 West Wisconsin Ave, in Milwaukee. The Churchwide Assembly is being held at the Midwest Express Center, 400 West Wisconsin Avenue.

“For us, the debate is over, homosexuality is not a sickness, and not a sin, and the ELCA needs to get on with the study so gay and lesbians can be ordained in the church while being committed to both their church and their partner,” said Rev. Mel White, Soulforce founder and executive director. “The ELCA, as well as most of the other denominations, need to stop treating us as second class citizens and recognize the incredible gifts we bring to the church.”

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

——————
Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc
Laura@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.