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US clergy group opposes banning same-sex marriage in constitution

A coalition of leaders from some Christian, Jewish and Sikh groups is opposing an amendment to the US constitution that is under consideration, prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The Clergy for Fairness has launched an Internet petition campaign due to the "Federal Marriage Amendment" expected to come before the US Senate early in June. The proposed change has the support of a number of conservative Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders.

"This debate is not about the Bible. It is not about homosexuality per se. It is about basic human rights," said Paul Simmons, a Baptist ethicist and professor at the University of Louisville Medical School in Kentucky, who moderated the press conference, the Associated Baptist Press reported.

The president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Richard Land said, however, "Supporters of traditional marriage need to bombard their senators’ offices with emails and phone calls, and preachers across America need to let the pulpit ring forth in clear and no uncertain terms … and help create a groundswell of support for this amendment."

The anti-amendment coalition said that while those in the group differ on rights for same-sex couples, they believe the amendment "reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil rights and ignores differences among our nation’s many religious traditions".

The petition notes religious marriage "will justly remain the prerogative of individual faith traditions in accordance with their doctrinal beliefs" and that the constitution has made no provision on marriage itself, with the matter left to the individual US states. It says the amendment would enshrine a religious point of view into the US constitution and restrict civil rights.

Clergy supporting the petition come from the Alliance of Baptists; the American Jewish Committee; the US Episcopal (Anglican) Church, the National Sikh Center; the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations; and the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries. As of 24 May, 1618 clergy had signed the petition, the coalition said.

Web site: www.clergyforfairness.org/

(c) Ecumenical News International