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Monday, February 23, 2009

Napa religious leaders speak out against Proposition 8, call for relationships to be based upon love and justice

This "open letter" was published in Sunday, February 22's Napa Register, and is a great thing to reflect on this time of year, just before Lent and Passover and just before California's Supreme Court is about to hear oral arguments about the invalidity of Proposition 8's passing.

I acknowledge these courageous leaders for speaking up and speaking out when many--even those "on our side" fall silent in the face of fear. Thank you for showing us that love is an action and that you see same-sex couples as your neighbor.

If you're looking for an LGBT friendly religious community to become a part of, I'm sure these ministers, pastors and our new-to-be-installed Rabbi would love to talk to you:
As religious leaders, we opposed Proposition 8 and remain committed to promoting the well-being and spiritual integrity of all people in our community. We are moved to offer this open letter to the people and communities of Napa County.

There are strong civil liberties arguments for ending the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from the legal institution of marriage. But marriage equality is about more than equal access to the legal protections of marriage. It's about our affirming intimate relationships between people. It's about respect for the new and richly diverse definitions of what it means to be a family. Our religious perspectives celebrate that humans are created in and for relationship and that sexuality is God's gift. And so we affirm the dignity and worth of all people and recognize sexual difference as a blessed part of what it means to be human. There can be no justification for discrimination solely on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. All people have the right to lead lives that express love and justice, mutuality and commitment, consent and pleasure; this includes both civil and religious marriage.

Marriage is about entering into a covenant with another person to share life's joys and sorrows. Marriage is to be valued because it creates stable, committed relationships; it provides a means to share economic resources; it is a source of nurture not only for the couple, but for their children. Good marriages benefit the community. We believe that where there is love, God is there also. What's more, marriage has always been evolving. In the past, it was primarily about property and procreation whereas today the emphasis is on egalitarian partnership, companionship, and love. At one point, neither the state nor most religions recognized divorce and remarriage, interracial marriage, or the equality of the partners. These understandings changed in greater recognition of our shared humanity and the importance of moral and civil rights.

We can't rely exclusively on scripture for understanding marriage today. There are religious texts that encourage celibacy, forbid divorce, and require women to be subservient to their husbands, but we don't give them the authority that they once had. But there are also scriptural models for blessed relationships that go beyond one man and one woman. These scriptures neither commend a single marriage model nor command that we all should be married; but do call that all relationships be based upon love and justice. Our faith calls us to justice and compassion (to love our neighbor as ourselves) and that provides the only mandate that we need for marriage equality.

No single religious voice should speak for all traditions on issues of sexuality and marriage.

The faith traditions that we hold sacred, challenge us to speak and act for justice for all people who want to express their love in the commitment of marriage. Some people of faith differ with us; others may be undecided. To all of them, we reach out and seek to promote what's best for the individuals and couples involved, for their families, for their children and for the sake of our community.

Our commitment, finally, isn't just for the legal rights of some people, but relational justice for all people.

Respectfully in faith,

The Reverend Bonnie Dlott
Unitarian Universalist Minister, (925) 256-4334

The Reverend Jonathan Eastman
Presbyterian Pastor, (707) 963-1255

The Reverend David Hamilton
Lutheran Pastor, (707) 226-8166

The Reverend Roger Kimble III
United Methodist Pastor, (707) 253-1411

The Reverend Douglas J. Monroe
United Methodist Pastor, (707) 253-1411

The Reverend Ken Micah Murdock
Unity Church Senior Minister, (707) 447-0521

Rabbi Oren J Postrel
Reformed Jewish Rabbi, (707) 253-7305

The Reverend Linda S. Powers
Presbyterian Minister, (707) 251-1577

The Reverend Dr. Deana Reed
Presbyterian Pastor, (707) 255-9426

The Reverend Jim Warnock
Lutheran Pastor, (707) 332-7516

The Reverend Julie Webb
Lutheran Pastor, (707) 226-8166
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, missing are any clergy or officials from the Catholic or Latter-Day-Saint (Mormon) Churches.


  1. Not sure how you all feel about commenting on the NVR, but my belief is, it helps to remind folks we are here. The trick is to not get mad at and alienate those we wish to convert to our side.
    And this is an easy and safe way to do it. So, please, jump in.

  2. Anybody following this? Here's my latest contribution. Over the top? Off target? Any feedback? I fear I'm losing my perspective....... anyway, here it is:

    Homosexuality is not a lifestyle. Gay, bi, and straight are all sexual orientations. And there are many different lifestyles open to all of those orientations, including celibacy, committed relationships including marriage for some, (depending on what state or country one lives in) raising children, and being single with all that implies. It is just like the wide variety of lifestyles straight people lead.

    As it appear you don't accept the lives of gay people, (not a "viable alternative lifestyle"), I must ask just how far would you go in your persecution of gay people, and do you think Jesus would approve of you inflicting suffering and harm on others?

    To many, it is those who believe that Jesus stood for the marginalization of minorities who not only lose their credibility but also damage the credibility of Christianity.

    Causing emotional injury to any minority group is morally and legally indefensible in a society where the concept of equal protection is supposed to safeguard the rights of the minority.

    While you have the right to practice your beliefs in you home and church, your right to your beliefs does not extend to the point that it does harm to others. That is why public policy must be made on the basis of universally accepted ethical principles, and not left to the whims of any particular religion.

  3. Here are the censored parts of that post: "The Pope says gay people should be "accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity". He also opposes the death penalty even for serial and mass murderers, yet refuses to oppose the death penalty for gay people who are guilty only of loving each other. His church and some others spend large amounts of money and resources fighting legal protections for people who only want to love each other, while fighting for humane treatment of those who spread hate and misery. If you want to be a light for the gospel of Christ, stop preaching hate while calling it love."
    Too harsh? The NVR thought so I guess.

  4. "What the Bible Says - And Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality" by Rev. Dr. Mel White is a pamphlet that is most helpful in explaining those few passages that are used by fundamentalists to demonize LGBT people. It's very readable and not as long as a book, and is very helpful in helping to understand those passages. It's also very helpful if you ever find yourself having to defend your very existance to a religious person. While there is no rational reason for homophobia, religious texts are the only remaining rationalization for writing laws that discriminate against us. Just google the title or go to the Soulforce web site.

  5. napascot. I hope you find this. I tried to post it on the NVR this morning and again later in the day, but it looks like they censored it. I guess they can call us "abnormal" etc, but we can't call them prejudiced. Here is the original:

    Thanks for the encouragement. I often feel like giving up, as I know many who post here will never be able to overcome the prejudice they learned as a child, no matter what logic, reason, or facts are presented to them. Yet I cling to the hope that there may be others who read the comments who might be persuaded by the arguments presented by all of those who support equality over discrimination. All of our voices are important and needed if we are to change the hearts and minds of those who cling to their prejudice. So don't worry that you may not express yourself as well as you might like. Like all of us, you will improve with practice, so please jump in anytime, even if it is only to say "Amen"