Religious leaders unite to oppose marriage amendment

Rabbi Melissa Simon
Rabbi Melissa Simon of Shir Tikvah synagogue in Minneapolis stands with a large gathering of other Minnesota faith leaders to denounce the marriage amendment ballot question that will go before voters in November.
MPR Photo/Sasha Aslanian

About 120 religious leaders of different faiths today announced the formation of Clergy United for All Families, which will work to defeat the marriage amendment on the November ballot.

The proposed amendment would write Minnesota's current law defining marriage as one man and one woman into the state constitution.

Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian, Quaker and every mainline Protestant faith were represented at today's gathering, which was organized by the faith department of Minnesotans United for All Families, the largest group working to defeat the amendment.

At a morning news conference at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, faith leaders said the amendment goes against their belief that marriage is about love and commitment, not gender, and that the amendment would discriminate against same-sex couples.

"The world is created by God and it is a place where everybody deserves to feel safe and belong and marriage is one of the ways we live that out in our world and everyone should have that right," said pastor Kelly Chatman from Redeemer Lutheran Church in north Minneapolis. Chatman said he was acting because of his faith, not despite it.

Bruce Robbins, pastor of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church which hosted the gathering, noted the diversity of faiths represented.

"Today we all pray that all of our traditions which are full of mixed theologies in many ways can strive for a time when love is paramount in the tradition and we are all equal in the love of God, be we Christians, or Jews, or Muslims or Hindus or any other faith tradition that surrounds us here," he said.

Grant Stevensen
Grant Stevensen, a Lutheran pastor and faith director of Minnesotans United for All Families at a news conference at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church announcing the formation of Clergy United for All Families.
MPR Photo/Sasha Aslanian

Robbins said like many congregations, his members hold differing views on the marriage issue so for nine months they have been engaging in what he called a "holy conversation," guided by scripture, tradition, reason and experience. On June 1, the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to oppose the amendment.


Jeff Evans, an evangelical pastor who does church outreach for Minnesota for Marriage, emphasized the strength of the religious coalition supporting the amendment which includes the Roman Catholic Church, a broad array of evangelical churches and a growing number of ethnic congregations.

"The defense of marriage is really bringing together just a tremendous amount of diversity in our state," Evans said. "I know there are a small band of people who are not supportive of marriage the way that we understand it, but they really seem to be a small minority compared to what I've been seeing across the state."

One motivation to form Clergy United is to amplify the voice of faith communities that oppose the amendment.

" I think it's really important to know that people of faith in Minnesota, many of them who join me today, have taken a very strong stand to say that we as people of faith are voting no," said Rabbi Melissa Simon of Temple Shir Tikvah in Minneapolis.

Leaders with Clergy United say they will encourage conversations about the proposed amendment among their congregations in the months leading up to the election.

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