"No more exemptions" RI faith leaders write to legislature

Faith leaders in Rhode Island, including Episcopal Bishop Nick Knisely, tell legislators, no more exemptions are needed in the marriage equality bill H5015/S38. The Providence Journal reports:

.... Providing the opportunity for people and businesses to discriminate is not a legitimate pursuit of faith communities. The potential for harm is too great, and the dignity of too many Rhode Islanders will be put at risk. We categorically stand opposed to using faith as an excuse to legalize discrimination.

We recognize the diversity within the faith community on the issue of marriage equality and we believe the exemptions included in H5015/S38 adequately address the concerns of those denominations that choose not to marry same-sex couples. As we live out our shared values of love and inclusion, marriage equality will allow clergy from supportive faith traditions to provide better pastoral care. We urge the Senate to pass S38 and allow us to marry loving and committed same-sex couples from our congregations.

The Rev. Donald Anderson is executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches. The Rev. Gene Dyszlewski is chairman of the Religious Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality. The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely is the Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island. Bishop James Hazelwood represents the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Rabbi Amy Levin
is president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island.

Read the whole statement here.

Comments (2)

I remember when I worked in state government that someone was assigned the task of rewriting the licensure rules for nursing homes. The first draft contained something to the effect that no resident could be abused or discriminated against unless it was for religious purposes. WHAT?

Needless to say, that did NOT make it to the second draft. But it surprises me that people think, when it comes to how people should be treated or cared for, it is okay for churches to follow a different set of guidelines than the rest of society under the guise of religious freedom.

Even the civil union law that the General Assembly passed in 2011 is riddled with so many exemptions that it doesn't really protect a couple's rights if a religiously affiliated hospital, school, university, or other institution is involved.

Bill Dilworth

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