Against the Amendment: Q&A – Faith Leaders

The effort to defeat the anti-marriage amendment is strong and reaches communities of faith across Minnesota. This week, we asked faith leaders to tell us what inspires them to oppose the amendment.

When I think about why my Christian faith leads me to oppose this constitutional amendment, two images come to mind. First, Moses standing before the burning bush; second, Jesus proclaiming the kingdom of God.

At the burning bush, Moses hears not only the name of God, but also the promise that God will liberate the children of Israel. God promises to be there for them, for always. This promise unfolds throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

Later, the Gospel of Matthew declares that Jesus embodies precisely this characteristic of God. He calls Jesus Emmanuel, “God with us,” and he records Jesus’ final words of promise: “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” As a whole, the Gospels portray Jesus’ ministry—from parables and teachings, to miracles and table fellowship—as a life determined to make that promised presence both tangibly real and unmistakably gracious.

At the center of the biblical story is a God whose defining feature is promised faithfulness. This is precisely what makes a marriage: the promise to be there for another personfor always.

I want Minnesota to respect and honor those who make a solemn promise of faithfulness to another person. Such promises strengthen the fabric of community for us all. As a person of faith, I recognize in these promises an echo of the very nature of God. And that leads me to oppose the amendment all the more.

David R. Weiss is an author and lifelong Lutheran. Learn more at www.tothetune.com

The Catholic Church’s rich tradition of social justice is what leads me to oppose the marriage amendment. Throughout history there are many examples of Catholics – including bishops – powerfully speaking out on issues such as racism and immigrant rights. Traditionally, such speaking out has sought to reduce discrimination and expand the circle of inclusion in our society.  Yet this is not the case with the Minnesota bishops’ current activism around marriage equality, who are advocating the exact opposite.

For many Catholics this is a blatant and grievous betrayal – not only of Catholicism’s rich social justice tradition, but of the very way of being Catholic in the world. This “way” reflects the way of Jesus, and is not about unquestioning obedience to the church hierarchy but about discerning and celebrating God’s presence in the lives and experiences of all. Bishops have forgotten this hallmark of the faith, but the Catholic people have not. It’s not surprising that credible polls show the majority of Catholics are supportive of civil rights for gay people – including civil marriage rights. Such support reflects the Catholic faith’s emphasis on compassion, justice, family, truth-telling and love. Like people of faith from a range of religious traditions, Catholics have witnessed these qualities and values in the lives and relationships of LGBT people. Our challenge now is to go out and share with others what we’ve witnessed. Such sharing will contribute greatly to the defeat of the amendment.

 

Michael Bayly is an author, and the executive coordinator of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN. Learn more at c4me.org.

The teachings of Jewish tradition compel me as a Jew to vote “no” on the constitutional amendment to define marriage.

The Torah (Jewish Bible) supports the full equality, dignity and acceptance of LGBTQ people and their families. We learn this from the story of creation which teaches that all people are made b’tzelem elohim (in the likeness of God) (Genesis 1:26) and that lo tov heyot ha’adam levado (it is not good for a human being to be alone) (Genesis 2:18).

As a Jew, I know that members of my faith have experienced discrimination and violence.  As a person of faith, I cannot remain silent in the face of the oppression of anyone. We can learn from the prophets who spoke out against the wrongs they saw being committed around them. We have the imperative: Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof (Justice, justice shall you pursue) (Deuteronomy 16:20) to speak out against injustice in order to participate in Tikkun Olam (the repair of the world).

In my office I have a picture with the words from Rabbi Hillel “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am only for myself, what am I?  If not now when.” (Pirke Avot the Says of the Ancestors 1:14).  As people of faith, we must speak out against this amendment for ourselves, for our friends and family, and we must speak out now!

Rabbi Melissa B. Simon is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shir Tikvah in south Minneapolis. 

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