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Letter by 120 clergy from 19 faiths calls for marriage equality in New Jersey

H/T Rosi Efthim.  Although the conservative variety get all the press, the truth is that nationwide, clergy and leaders from a broad spectrum of faith traditions support marriage equality.  To name but a few, we’ve seen similar statements from faith leaders in Massachusetts, in Washington, in Maine and perhaps most spectacularly in the District of Columbia.  New Jersey is no different.  No New Jersey clergy will ever be forced to marry same-sex couples, but currently those who wish to do so are being discriminated against by a civil law that is partial to radical-right conservative religiosity.  New Jersey clergy are therefore calling for the law to be made impartial by allowing same-gender couples access to civil marriage.  Here is their letter to legislative leaders.

120 Clergy from 19 Faiths in the State of New Jersey

Monday, January 4, 2010

Senate President Richard J. Codey

Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr.

The State House

Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Dear Governor Codey and Speaker Roberts:

We are 120 clergy members across New Jersey from 19 faiths and denominations.  We are but a sample of New Jersey clergy who support marriage equality and wish to marry same-sex couples legally.  

We are Baptist, Buddhist, Episcopal, Ethical Culture Society, Interfaith, Jewish Conservative, Jewish Reconstructionist, Jewish Reform, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community Church, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed Church of America, Sankey Tribe, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ and Unity Fellowship Church.  Among us are members of the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers, who do not have clergy.

We 120 clergy members ask you to put the marriage equality bill to a vote in your respective houses – without precondition – before the end of the current legislative session.  

In our nation founded on the separation of church and state, the State of New Jersey should not be in the business of telling faiths and clergy whom we can or cannot legally marry.   We take issue with the State’s current marriage law, which is not religiously neutral but reflects the beliefs of leaders of a particular faith community which opposes marriage equality.  

We 120 clergy members support the freedom of religion embodied by the U.S. Constitution, the New Jersey Constitution and the marriage equality bill now before the New Jersey legislature, the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act.  Language in the bill underscores the right of every religion and every clergy member to decide whom to marry and not to marry.  

Furthermore, an amendment to the bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month would codify the nation’s strongest protections for religious freedom in matters of marriage.  The amendment ensures that no religious organization or religious facility in New Jersey can be sued because it has followed its conscience in which marriages it chooses to accommodate, or not accommodate.    

There cannot be a better guarantor of religious freedom than the version of the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act now before you.  

We are proud that our nation has never allowed any one religious doctrine to determine secular law.  New Jersey law provides for divorce, for example, though some find divorce religiously impermissible.  Indeed, the idea of New Jersey’s banning civil divorce would be unthinkable.  Our state would not stand for favoring the convictions of any one religion over another.

As 120 clergy across New Jersey from 19 faiths and denominations, we urgently ask you to put the marriage equality bill to a vote in your respective houses – without precondition – before the end of the current legislative session.  The State must get out of our sanctuaries and uphold our religious freedom as clergy to marry whom we wish, or don’t wish, under State law.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration.  


Rabbi Joel Abraham, Jewish Reform

Rabbi Victor Appell, Jewish Reform

Rev. Meg Barnhouse, Unitarian Universalist

Bishop Mark Beckwith, Episcopal

Leader Rafaela Billini, Buddhist

Rev. Fred Blanken, Sankey Tribe

Rev. David C. Bocock, United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Thomas Bohache, Metropolitan Community Church

Rabbi Neal Borovitz, Jewish Reform

Rabbi Andrew Bossov, Jewish Reform

Rabbi Kenneth L. Brickman, Jewish Reform

Rev. Christopher Bruesehoff, Lutheran

Rev. Rene Colson Hudson, American Baptist

Dr. Joseph C. Chuman, Ethical Culture Society

Rev. Matthew Cimorelli, Lutheran

Rev. Diana Clark, Episcopal

Rev. Susan Nelson-Colaneri, Lutheran

Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz, Jewish Reform

Rev. Bruce Davidson, Lutheran

Michael Dawson, Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers)

Rev. Peter DeFranco, Lutheran

Rev. David DeSmith, Episcopal

Rabbi Stephanie Dickstein, Jewish Conservative

Rev. Robert Janis-Dillon, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Thomas Dorsey, Lutheran

Rev. Wayne Dreyman, Lutheran

Rev. L.L. DuBreuil, United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Jeffrey C. Eaton, Lutheran

Rev. Rusty Eidmann-Hicks, United Church of Christ

Rabbi Paula Feldstein, Jewish Reform

Rev. Mary Forrell, Lutheran

Rev. Bryan Franzen, Presbyterian

Rabbi Elyse Frishman, Jewish Reform

Rev. Maristella Freiberg, Episcopal

Rev. Anahi Galante, Interfaith

Rev. Debra Given, Presbyterian

Rev. John Graf, Interfaith

Cantor Meredith Greenberg, Jewish Conservative

Rabbi Jarah Greenfield, Jewish Reconstructionist

Rabbi David Greenstein, Jewish Conservative

Rev. Carol Haag, Unitarian Universalist

Rabbi Debra R. Hachen, Jewish Reform

Rev. Dr. Betsey Hall, Presbyterian

Rabbi Richard Hammerman, Jewish Conservative

Rev. Rose Hardy, Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church

Rev. Rose Hassan, Episcopal

Father Joseph A. Harmon, Episcopal

Rev. Margaret Hayes, Lutheran

Rev. Alicia Heath-Toby, Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church

Rev. Margaret Herz-Lane, Lutheran

Bishop Jacquelyn Holland, Unity Fellowship Church

Rev. Janyce Jackson, Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, Reformed Church in America

Catherine Karsten, Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers)

Rev. Katherine G. Killebrew, Presbyterian

Rabbi Donna Kirschbaum, Jewish Reconstructionist

Rev. Robert Kriesat, Lutheran

Teacher Peter Kurczynski, Buddhist

Rabbi Alfred Landsberg, Jewish Reform

Rev. Gary C. LeCroy, Lutheran

Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh, Jewish Reconstructionist

Rev. Fred Lentz, Lutheran

Rabbi Ellen Lewis, Jewish Reform

Rabbi David C. Levy, Jewish Reform

Rabbi Adina Lewittes, Jewish Conservative

Cantor Erica J. Lippitz, Jewish Conservative

Rabbi Sharon Litwin, Jewish Reform

Bishop George Lucey, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

Rev. Murdoch MacPherson, Lutheran

Rabbi Randall Mark, Jewish Conservative

Rev. Alison B. Miller, Unitarian Universalist

Rabbi Jordan Millstein, Jewish Reform

Rev. Manish Mishra, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Rob Morris, Presbyterian

Rabbi Leana Moritt, Jewish Renewal

Rev. William C. Moser, Lutheran

Rabbi Robin Nafshi, Jewish Reform

Rev. Julie Newhall, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Tiina Nummela, Lutheran

Rev. Clark Olson-Smith, Lutheran

Rev. Sara Olson-Smith, Lutheran

Rev. Charles Bluestein Ortman, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Michelle Owings-Christian, Sankey Tribe

Rev. Fairbairn Powers, Episcopal

Rev. Dr. Susan Veronica Rak, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Ann Ralosky, United Church of Christ

Rev. Donald R. Ransom, Unity Fellowship Church

Rabbi Esther Reed, Jewish Conservative

Rev. Christine Regan, Episcopal

Rev. Elsie Rhodes, Presbyterian

Rabbi Jonathan Roos, Jewish Reform

Rabbi Francine Roston, Jewish Conservative

Rev. Dr. Charles T. Rush, United Church of Christ

Rev. Leah Doberne-Schor, Jewish Reform

Rev. Marshall Shelly, Episcopal

Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, Jewish Conservative

Rabbi Steven Sirbu, Jewish Reform

Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Vanessa Southern, Unitarian Universalist

Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro, Jewish Reform

Rabbi Cy Stanway, Reform Judaism

Rev. Randy Steinman, Lutheran

Rev. Charles Stephens, Unitarian Universalist

Rev. Douglas Stivison, United Church of Christ

Rev. David L. Stoner, Lutheran

Thomas Swain, Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers)

Rebecca Sylvan, Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers)

Elder Rev. Kevin E. Taylor, Unity Fellowship Church

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, Jewish Reconstructionist

Rev. Matt A. Thiringer, Lutheran

Rev. Charles N. Thompson, Presbyterian

Rev. Mary Tiebout, United Church of Christ

Rev. Ray VandeGiessen, Presbyterian

Rev. Gus Vinajeras, Lutheran

Rev. Paul Walker, Episcopal

Rev. Moacir Weirich, United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Traci C. West, United Methodist

Rev. David Wolf, Episcopal

Rev. Jeffrey B. Ziegler, Lutheran

Rabbi Ruth A. Zlotnick, Jewish Reform

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer