Soulforce Urges People of Faith to Stand in Silent Protest at Houses of Worship that Participate in "Protect Marriage Sunday" July 11th, 2004

Soulforce Press Release, June 29, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592

(Lynchburg, VA) Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, is encouraging people of faith to protest if their religious leaders use worship time to urge their congregation to support the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), thereby, using the pulpit to oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Soulforce is asking people in the pews to silently stand in nonviolent protest with a message that says, “I oppose the FMA,” if their houses of worship participate in “Protect Marriage Sunday” on July 11.

The Federal Marriage Amendment, a much-debated proposed amendment to the Constitution, seeks to define marriage as “between one man and one woman”, thereby writing discrimination into the Constitution and creating second class citizens of hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, couples, and families throughout the United States.

“We can no longer sit quietly in the pews and do nothing when the pulpit is used to oppress us, we must stand up against our own oppression! To use worship to demean and oppress same-gender couples is wrong,” said Karen Weldin, Director of Operation for Soulforce, Inc. “Additionally, for leaders to accuse our marriages and loving relationships as being a threat to anyone is total hyperbole and lies.”

In a recent email from the American Family Association, leaders of the political/religious right are urging pastors to use Sunday School Classes and sermon time on July 11, 2004 to preach against equal marriage rights for same-gender couples, and pass out information on “how to contact your senators” regarding the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. A vote on the FMA is scheduled in the Senate the week of July 12, 2004.

According to the New York Times on May 16, 2004, Religious Right leaders are having trouble mobilizing support for the FMA in the churches. Matt Daniels, founder of the anti-gay Alliance for Marriage, said, "Our side is basically asleep right now," and Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Tradition Values Coalition, said: "I don’t see any traction.”

“What many people seem to forget is that the rights of civil marriage and the religious ritual of marriage are two different things. Because we have freedom of religion in this country, houses of worship can always decide for themselves which rituals they will perform,” said Laura Montgomery Rutt, Director of Communications for Soulforce. “Our government, however, has an obligation and a responsibility to treat all people equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender. It is not the government’s task to enshrine one religious definition of marriage into the Constitution, thereby undermining the Establishment Clause and destroying our country’s most basic tenant of religious liberty.”

In an email action alert on June 25, Soulforce urged people of faith who are committed to justice and equality to contact their Senators on or before July 12, 2004 to express their opposition to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Additionally, a letter to Congress written by Soulforce ( was hand-delivered to Senators on June 25, 2004.

For more information, see