Soulforce, Inc. Issues Policy Statement on Civil Marriage in Light of Comments by Religious and Political Leaders

MARRIAGE IS A CIVIL RIGHT

Soulforce, Inc. Policy Statement on Civil Marriage

August 1, 2003

Since the day the Supreme Court released its decision on the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy case that decriminalized private sexual activity between consenting adults, the debate has turned to civil marriage.

Soulforce, Inc. strongly supports the civil rights of all people, including but not limited to the right to choose whether or not to voluntarily enter into civil contracts with one another.

Civil marriage is a civil contract between two people, who promise to honor, respect, and care for one another until death. This contract affords over 1000 government benefits to those who enter into it. Some people have the ability to choose this form of contract, others do not, because the United States government sanctions discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people when issuing civil contracts that we call "marriage."

Additionally, when this commitment between two people takes on religious connotations, we also call it "marriage," however it then becomes a religious ritual.

Soulforce also supports religious liberty, which guarantees people the right to choose their religion, and to choose a religion that honors their choices and decisions.

We do, however, look forward to the day when no one will choose a religion that discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Soulforce also supports the separation of church and state, a Constitutional principle based on the balance between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

Statements by religious leaders or politicians that are intended to entangle church and state, to blur the distinction between civil and religious marriage, and to deny equal rights to anyone based on the gender, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity are an insult and an injustice to America.

We strongly urge all elected officials and religious leaders to uphold the Constitution, honor the Supreme Court, support Freedom of Religion, by granting civil marriage to consenting adults regardless of sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, and to work to guarantee the ideals of Equality, Justice and Freedom for All.

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Soulforce a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people. We teach and apply the nonviolent principles of M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King to the liberation of gender and sexual minorities.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org

Media Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt

717-278-0592 (media only)

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