Stop an Anti-marriage Constitutional Amendment

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 2/20/2004

The Washington Post has reported that President Bush plans to endorse a constitutional amendment that would say:

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

Please note that phrase — "Legal incidents thereof." That means the Federal or state constitutions could not even be interpreted by the courts to require a civil-union alternative to marriage.

And it probably would keep states or cities from requiring elementary human rights for civil partners — rights to pensions, hospital visits, adoptions, and other basic human needs that many states and cities have put into law.

Some politicians also hope to use this issue to distract attention from the disastrous occupation of Iraq and the disastrous bleeding dry of schools, health-care, environmental protection, even police and fire protection.

Now is the time to take action! Some members of Congress are pushing hard to bring the amendment up for a vote.

The Reform, Reconstructionist, and renewal Jewish movements all think same-sex marriage can be as holy - or as troubled — as heterosexual marriages. Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center has declared their opposition to the proposed amendment.

And the Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Christ, more than half the Episcopal Church, and many other religious folk agree.

On the other hand, some religious communities oppose same-sex marriage.

These differences in religious outlook are exactly why the First Amendment — keeping God out of the clutches of politicians — was and is still one of God's best creations.

For many years, being Jewish in America automatically meant being outside the religious mainstream, ghettoized by public prayers, etc. Being Catholic used to mean that too.

God forbid - and I DO mean God forbid! - that as a country we dig ourselves into a pit where Orthodox Jews and Southern Baptists are affirmed by the Constitution while Reform Jews and Episcopalians are ghettoized.

The Massachusetts approach doesn't ghettoize the Orthodox or the Baptists. It lets people choose their own religious outlook, and the State stays neutral.

But many politicians misperceive this as a question where religious folk are against the right to same-sex marriage and only secular folk are for it. So religious folk who support the right to choose same-sex marriage - Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, others — can have a HUGE impact.

The Shalom Center is now prepared to help you do that.

If we take this opportunity seriously, and really work to organize religious support for marriage equality, we could very well help tip the balance.

I hope that you'll choose to take action. What we can accomplish together is much greater than what we can curse alone.

On our Home Page is a tab for GRASS-ROOTS ACTION. Click there, and you can easily use Email to reach your Congressfolk and your home-town newspapers.

It's easy, and it's effective!

If you want more information on these questions, please look again at the articles and the Weblog on our Home Page.

You can also see articles on the renewal of religious sexual ethics and on the wedding ceremony itself.

See also any of the following -

Washington Post article

Human Rights Campaign Talking Points

UUA Marriage Web page

White House Press Briefing from 02/11/04

People for the American Way Press Release