The Boston Globe reports that several prominent religious leaders from Massachusetts are lending their support to the campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York state. They told New Yorkers that gay marriage has not affected religious freedom in the Bay State.
The gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, said it sought out clergy in Masachusetts in an effort to rebut critics of same-sex marriage.
"There is a campaign on the side of the religious right to convince people that marriage equality for same-sex couples will threaten religious freedom, but we don't think that is the case, and we don't want any myths to go unanswered," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the organization. "Nobody has more experience in dealing with the issue of marriage equality than Massachusetts, and so the best people to respond are those who live in Massachusetts and who lead religious institutions."
Empire State Pride yesterday released a YouTube video featuring three Massachusetts clergy: Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; the Rev. Nancy S. Taylor of Old South Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Boston; and the Rev. Michael Wayne Walker of Messiah Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in Brockton. Taylor and Walker officiate at same-sex marriages; Shaw does not, because his denomination opposes it, although he personally supports them.
"We've never had any litigation around same-sex marriages, we've never had any protests that I know of, and we've never had any interference, as far as the government is concerned, in our religious tradition," Shaw said.
They address three Big Myths which are:
#1 -- Churches and other religious institutions will be forced to marry same-sex couples
In fact, churches don't have to marry anybody they don't want to. Many traditions do not perform same-sex marriages because their traditions do not allow it. As the Globe notes, while Bishop Shaw supports same-sex marriage he does not permit them to be performed in Episcopal Churches his diocese. This is a disappointment to many but it is also a sign that the church does not have to act in lock-step with the state.
#2 -- Religious institutions can face penalties such as law suits or loss of tax exempt status if they refuse to marry same-sex couples
No church has faced any penalty for refusing to perform same-sex marriages because the state will not dictate to a church their teaching or practice on marriage. Because of that, it often works the other way around: clergy who act against their traditions rules can face penalties from their denominations.
#3 -- Marriage as we know it will be destroyed
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor, Senior Minister of Old South Church in Boston says: "I can't think of any way, shape of form how same-gender marriage has harmed our life in the Commonwealth let alone in this congregation."
Susan Russell at Inch at a Time posted the YouTube video which we share here:
Read the rest of the Globe article here.