WASHINGTONâ€”In an open letter released December 6, entitled â€œThe Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment,â€ leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Sikh communities in the United States affirmed the importance of preserving marriageâ€™s unique meaning. Signatories included Archbishop Robert Duncan and Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America).
â€œThe broad consensus reflected in this letterâ€”across great religious dividesâ€”is clear: The law of marriage is not about imposing the religion of anyone, but about protecting the common good of everyone,â€ said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and one of the letterâ€™s signers. â€œPeople of any faith or no faith at all can recognize that when the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman, it legally binds a mother and a father to each other and their children, reinforcing the foundational cell of human society.â€
The release of this letter coincided with the beginning of oral arguments on the Proposition 8 case. In August, Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled Californiaâ€™s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, based in part on the claim that defining marriage as between a man and a woman lacked any rational basis at all, and instead reflected nothing but religion-based hostility to homosexual persons. This ruling has been appealed and its initial hearing was scheduled for December 6.
â€œToday is the moment to stand for marriage and its unchangeable meaning. We hope this letter will encourage just that,â€ Archbishop Dolan said. â€œThe Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitmentâ€ is being circulated nationwide. Downloadable PDF versions of the letter can be found at www.usccb.org/defenseofmarriage/shared-commitment.
Full text of the letter and signers follows:
Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just religious communities.
As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensible place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.
Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society in innumerable ways. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
National Association of Evangelicals
Dr. Thomas E. Armiger
Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
Dr. Jerry G. Pence
The Board of General Superintendents
The Wesleyan Church
Dr. Gary M. Benedict
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Glenn C. Burris Jr.
The Foursquare Church
Bishop H. David Burton
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Dr. Ronald W. Carpenter, Sr.
International Pentecostal Holiness Church Ministries
Director, Institute for Public Affairs
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Most Rev. Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Rev. Jim Eschenbrenner
Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Gammon
Conservative Congregational Conference
Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church â€“ Missouri Synod
Great Commission Churches
Dr. Clyde M. Hughes
International Pentecostal Church of Christ
The Brethren Church
Bishop Harry Jackson
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches
The Most Blessed Jonah
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America
Dr. Richard Land
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Rev. Frederick J. Moury Jr.
National Conference Chair
Evangelical Congregational Church
Dr. James Murray
Interim Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
World Sikh Council â€“ America Region
The Rev. Paull E. Spring
North American Lutheran Church
Dr. Joseph Tkach
Grace Communion International
Rev. Phil Whipple
Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA
Dr. George O. Wood
Assemblies of God