The Cleveland City Council has picked up some welcome allies as it tangles with local religious leaders who want to repeal a recently passed domestic partner registry.Read the letter here, or below.
Last week, the Call & Post newspaper endorsed the registry, which could help same- and opposite-sex couples obtain privileges typically reserved for the married. It is expected to take effect this spring, but several pastors are studying ways to repeal the law through new legislation.
[C]himing in, with harsh words for opposing pastors, was the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.
"While we affirm the right of any person in our democratic society to oppose the establishment of this registry, we are dismayed that clergy and others would use the Bible as their weapon of assault," Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. wrote to council members in a Jan. 21 letter also signed by three assisting bishops.
Bishops Write in Support of Cleveland Domestic-Partner Registry
Bishop Hollingsworth and Bishops Bowman, Persell, and Williams sent the following letter on January 21 to the Cleveland City Council in support of the Council's decision to provide for a Domestic-Partner Registry.
Dear Council Members,
We, the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, support the City Council's decision to provide for a Domestic-Partner Registry in Cleveland. The passage of this legislation witnesses to a basic tenet of our Judeo-Christian tradition—the mandate to love one another. Your action gives comfort, support, and affirmation to all those among us who are committed to sharing responsibility for one another's personal welfare. As well, it insists that all men and women are equal in the sight of God.
While we affirm the right of any person in our democratic society to oppose the establishment of this registry, we are dismayed that clergy and others would use the Bible as their weapon of assault. We are especially concerned that they would lift verses out of context much the same way that some Christians in a previous era selected verses to bolster their views in support of slavery, segregation, and the oppression of women.
The Domestic-Partner Registry now places Cleveland in the company of 78 other American cities (3 of which are in Ohio) which have passed similar laws, sending a clear message that we care for all our citizens.
Your action presents Cleveland as a welcoming and hospitable city which, in the spirit of St. Paul, expresses that hospitality even to the stranger (Romans 12:13).
We rejoice that members of Cleveland's City Council have acted forthrightly to address this need in our common life.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
The Rt. Rev. David C. Bowman
The Rt. Rev. William D. Persell
The Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams, Jr.