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More Than 1,000 Clergy Will Send Letter to Senators Urging ‘No’ Vote on Marriage Amendment

Contact:Barbara Weinstein or Brian Stoller
202.387.2800

More than 30 religious denominations represented in letter organized by Reform Jewish Movement

Saperstein: While we hold differing religious views on same-sex marriage, we are united in our belief that this amendment would dignify discrimination and threaten religious liberty.

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2004 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement today announcing the release of a letter, signed by more than 1,000 clergy with differing views on same-sex marriage, urging U.S. senators to reject the Federal Marriage Amendment:

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 clergy of over 30 religious denominations from across America will send U.S. senators a letter urging them to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment. While we hold differing religious views on same-sex marriage, we are united in our belief that this amendment would dignify discrimination and threaten religious liberty.

There is an all-too-common misperception that America's faith communities generally support amending the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. This is simply not the case. The truth is that millions of Americans, as represented by this diverse group of clergy, are deeply concerned about this effort to write discrimination and religious intolerance into our Constitution.

"The clergy joining this important letter believe that this discriminatory amendment would undermine our Constitution and tarnish our nation's proud history of expanding civil rights. America's faith communities have long supported that expansion, and many of us are wary of amending the Constitution to restrict the civil rights of an entire group of citizens.

"The marriage amendment, which might be interpreted as "trumping" the First Amendment, could also prevent individual religious denominations from sanctifying same-sex marriage if they choose to do so. If the amendment passes and states adopt corresponding marriage laws, would ministers and rabbis who officiate at same-sex weddings risk being carted off as criminals? We respect the rights of individual traditions to decide, based on their own religious teachings, whether or not to sanction same-sex marriage. Religious decisions should be made by religious communities, not by the federal government.

"Lawmakers need to know that the outspoken religious leaders who favor this amendment do not speak for all religious Americans. We are confident that this letter will help set the record straight. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is proud to have led the effort to gather 1,000 clergy signatures from across America expressing our opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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