Soulforce Letter to Congress Opposing H.R. 3313 – "Marriage Protection Act"

July 19, 2004

Dear United States Representatives,

Soulforce, Inc., a national interfaith organization committed to equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, urges you to oppose H.R. 3313, the "Marriage Protection Act of 2004."

After the defeat of the "Federal Marriage Amendment" in the Senate last week, this ill-conceived and misguided piece of legislation is another attempt to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, as well as strip GLBT people of equal protection under the law and circumvent the "balance of power" which is so crucial to our country’s democracy.

The "Marriage Protection Act of 2004" would deny federal courts the jurisdiction to hear cases pertaining to the 1995 "Defense of Marriage Act," thereby greatly undermining the rights of one group of citizens. As the Supreme Court stated in Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), "A law declaring that in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens than for all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal protection of the laws." Therefore, the "Marriage Protection Act" is not only unconstitutional, it is misguided and wrong.

As people of faith who support equal rights and protections for ALL people, we urge you to vote against H.R. 3313, and restore faith in our Congress to treat all persons equally, to respect the lives of all Americans, and to do what is right and just.

Sincerely,

Soulforce, Inc.

Soulforce Applauds US Senate for Rejecting the Proposed Federal Marriage Amendment

Declares that there is still much work to be done to end the spiritual violence against GLBT individuals, couples, and families

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Press Release: July 14, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
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Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, praised the US Senate for rejecting the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) to the US Constitution.

According to the Associated Press, a cloture vote taken to keep the FMA alive was defeated 48-50, 12 votes short of the 60 votes needed.

“This is a wonderful step in the right direction, and people of faith and faith communities played a large role in the defeat of the amendment by letting our senators know that this is not an acceptable measure,” declared Karen Weldin, Soulforce Director of Operations. “However, we still have much work to do in guaranteeing full equality and ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against GLBT people.”

Conservative religious/political groups tried to rally supporters last week through Protect Marriage Sunday, an attempt to get pastors to urge their congregations to support the FMA and call their senators asking for support. Soulforce, in turn, urged those attending churches that participated in Protect Marriage Sunday to stand in silent nonviolent protest because Soulforce felt that using the pulpit to demean the loving relationships between two people was wrong.

Soulforce, as well as other progressive organizations, both faith-based and secular, have been encouraging supporters and members to ask their Senators to vote against the FMA which would codify discrimination into the US Constitution and violated religious liberty. Some senators, however, stated the opposition to the amendment on other grounds, including the rights of states to determine marriage laws.

“To have this come up just before the elections shows that the religious/political conservatives are playing politics with peoples’ lives and using GLBT people as political pawns. This is simply wrong,” stated Laura Montgomery Rutt, Director of Communications for Soulforce. “ Even though the FMA died in the Senate, we can not rest until we achieve full equality for GLBT couples and their families.”

Soulforce is actively working to secure equal marriage rights for same-gender couples and end discrimination in religious institutions and civil society.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org.

Catholics Ignoring Church On Gay Marriage Poll Shows

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
365Gay.com, July 13, 2004
http://www.365gay.com/newscon04/07/071304rcPoll.htm

Washington – A survey of the concerns of Roman Catholics this political season shows that the vehement opposition by the Church to same-sex marriage will have little effect on how Catholics will vote.

The poll was commissioned by a liberal group within the church, Catholics for a Free Choice.

The View from Mainstream America: The Catholic Voter in Summer 2004 demonstrates that Catholics rank protecting the U.S. from terrorism and resolving the war in Iraq as the top priorities for the next president, with protecting jobs and Social Security and improving health care, Medicare, and public education filling out the next tier of concerns. Protecting the right to choose, promoting human rights, and advancing gay rights were at the bottom of their priorities.

From June 2-11, Washington D.C.-based polling firm Belden Russonello & Stewart surveyed 2,239 Catholics, including 366 Hispanic Catholics.

Of all the issues in the survey, the most important factor in determining how Catholics will vote in November is their confidence in President Bush’s ability to resolve the conflict in Iraq: at the time of the poll, 54 percent had confidence in the president’s ability to resolve the war in Iraq, while 46 percent were not confident.

However, when Bush is compared to Kerry Catholics are equally divided on who they support.

The high priority Catholics place on protecting Social Security and improving Medicare and public education is underscored by the findings that majorities support canceling some of the tax cuts and using the money to protect Social Security and improve Medicare (74 percent) or using the money to improve public education (68 percent).

The findings contrast sharply with the public agenda of the nation’s Catholic bishops, who have by and large concentrated on candidates’positions on gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and assisted suicide, yet have remained relatively silent on the issue of the war, the economy, Social Security, and Medicare – traditional areas of concern for Catholics.

By more than two to one (70 percent to 30 percent), Catholics say the views of Catholic bishops are not important to them in deciding for whom to vote. 83 percent believe that politicians have no religious obligation to vote according to a bishop’s recommendation.