The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Manager
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Article of Faith: Faith Leaders Support Marriage Equality in Maine


Faith leaders of the National Religious Leadership
Roundtable, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, are
issuing a strong and unified call of support for the freedom to marry
in Maine. Roundtable members joined with faith leaders in Maine earlier
this month to call for equality. What follows is an Article of Faith
about that experience.

Article of Faith
by the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel

National Religious Leadership Roundtable

The scene was not the usual campaign one: the Episcopal Cathedral in
downtown Portland, Maine, draped with the liturgical stoles of those
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who had lost their
ordination due to homophobia and heterosexism, peopled with both clergy
and lay leaders from a variety of different religious traditions and
backgrounds. They had come for two reasons: they wanted to hear the Rt.
Rev. Eugene V. Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and they
want to defeat Question 1, a referendum on the marriage equality law
that passed the Maine Legislature and was signed by the governor this
past spring.

They got what they wanted. While Bishop Robinson was not clad in his
religious garb, he preached a Christian gospel of extravagant
hospitality, expansive justice and overflowing love. He spoke about
interfaith work and he articulated a secular-religious partnership. He
inspired several standing ovations as he made crystal clear that
working for justice in civil society is one manifestation of a life of

Three days after this gathering, over one thousand people of faith
marched from their houses of worship to two different rallies in
Portland and in Bangor that called for the defeat of Question 1.

While only a small example that might seem unimportant when compared
to the larger No on 1 effort, these three events represent a critical
lesson that our pro-LGBT movement continues to learn and re-learn.
Because those who would oppose the moral, ethical and legal equality of
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people do so using religious
language, religious communities and religious methods, the pro-LGBT
community must continue to recognize its religious members and its
religious allies. And the pro-LGBT community must continue to support,
lift up and make space for pro-LGBT religious work that draws on the
strengths of religious communities.

The campaign in Maine seems to have understood this lesson, and
people of faith seem to have stepped up to the plate. The No on 1
kickoff featured a press conference with religious leaders articulating
a message of justice-seeking, love-supporting religion and organized
support. And both of the above events were sponsored by the Religious
Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine (and numerous co-sponsors,
including the National Religious Leadership Roundtable).

The campaign in Maine, if won, will be the first time a vote by the
people has extended marriage equality to same-sex couples. This will be
cause for jubilant celebration. And, in particular, it will be cause
for celebration that the work that we do as pro-LGBT advocates and
activists - whether in the secular or religious realm - is deeply
spiritual, deeply transformative work.

About the Author:The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel is the
Institute for Welcoming Resources and faith work director for the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we've made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That's why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you. Join us!