Soulforce Claims Proclamation by Bush is Anti-American and Anti-Family

Makes Commitment to Educate People of Faith to Support Equal Marriage Rights, beginning Oct. 11, 2003 in Lynchburg, VA

Soulforce Press Release: October 6, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592

(Lynchburg, VA) – Soulforce leaders today expressed shock and dismay at President Bush’s Proclamation declaring Oct 12-18 Marriage Protection Week. Leaders pledged to organize civil marriage forums across the United States to “educate people of faith about the injustice and spiritual violence caused by ignorance and misinformation surrounding equal civil marriage rights.”

The first Marriage Equality Forum is being held October 11, 2003 at 9am at First Christian Church in Lynchburg, VA, home of anti-gay rightwing televangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell. Soulforce claims that Jerry Falwell, the outspoken anti-gay pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, “is at the center of much of the spiritual violence and anti-gay religious teachings that are used to deny equal civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.”

“Bush’s proclamation and the Marriage Protection Week are based on misguided religious teachings which cross the boundaries of church/state separation and the principles of religious liberty,” declared Laura Montgomery Rutt, spokesperson for Soulforce, Inc. “To deny American families equal protections under the law based on a single misguided definition of family is not only anti-family, it is anti-American.”

The purpose of the Soulforce civil marriage forum on Saturday is to teach people of faith to advocate for equal marriage rights, and counter the inaccurate perception that there is only one definition of “marriage” and only one definition of “family”.

“All religions are free to decide what marriages they recognize and what marriages they don’t,” said Chris Purdom, Presbyterian elder and leader of the Soulforce Presbyterian denominational team. “But the government has a civil obligation to ensure equal rights for all people.”

Chris Purdom is one of the panelist for the Marriage Equality Forum, and will be speaking about faith based support for equal civil marriage rights. Chris is married, has two children, and cocoordinates the Interfaith Working Group in Philadelphia.

Other speakers include: Peter Montgomery, Vice President of Communications for People for the American Way; John Aravosis, founder of Wired Strategies and; and Chalee Snorton, grassroots organizer for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Soulforce leaders hope this Marriage Equality Forum will be a used as a model in other areas around the country to educate people of faith about the injustice of denying some families equal protection under the law, and how to help defeat an anti-gay Constitutional Amendment that codifies discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families into law by defining civil marriage as between a man and a woman.

Soulforce is a member of the Freedom to Marry Coalition. The Soulforce policy statement in support of civil marriage rights is available at

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

—————— Marriage Protection Week Proclamation follows———–

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 3, 2003

Marriage Protection Week, 2003
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Marriage is a sacred institution, and its protection is essential to the continued strength of our society. Marriage Protection Week provides an opportunity to focus our efforts on preserving the sanctity of marriage and on building strong and healthy marriages in America.

Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and my Administration is working to support the institution of marriage by helping couples build successful marriages and be good parents.

To encourage marriage and promote the well-being of children, I have proposed a healthy marriage initiative to help couples develop the skills and knowledge to form and sustain healthy marriages. Research has shown that, on average, children raised in households headed by married parents fare better than children who grow up in other family structures. Through education and counseling programs, faith-based, community, and government organizations promote healthy marriages and a better quality of life for children. By supporting responsible child-rearing and strong families, my Administration is seeking to ensure that every child can grow up in a safe and loving home.

We are also working to make sure that the Federal Government does not penalize marriage. My tax relief package eliminated the marriage penalty. And as part of the welfare reform package I have proposed, we will do away with the rules that have made it more difficult for married couples to move out of poverty.

We must support the institution of marriage and help parents build stronger families. And we must continue our work to create a compassionate, welcoming society, where all people are treated with dignity and respect.

During Marriage Protection Week, I call on all Americans to join me in expressing support for the institution of marriage with all its benefits to our people, our culture, and our society.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the week of October 12 through October 18, 2003, as Marriage Protection Week. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.


For more information, see For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

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