Religious sects to participate in Sabbath Weekend to support same-sex marriage

Posted Sept. 12, 2012, at 5:44 p.m.

More than 75 religious bodies in Maine are expected to take part in Sabbath Weekend for the Freedom of All to Marry Sept. 14-16, led by the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination to highlight how people of faith from diverse traditions support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

Voters will consider a referendum allowing same-sex civil unions in Maine when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.

The religious coalition initiated the Sabbath Weekend to urge people of faith to reach out to others who may be conflicted about this issue, and talk about how they have come to support marriage equality because of their faith.

Religious Coalition Against Discrimination is joined in this effort by Catholics for Marriage Equality, or Catholics4ME, and Mainers United

for Marriage with the understanding that the majority of people who are conflicted about supporting same-sex marriage are people of faith, and how people of faith vote could determine the outcome at the polls, according to a press statement.

“People of faith in every tradition highly value marriage and also want to strengthen all Maine families, including same-sex couples and their families,” said the Rev. Marvin Ellison, president of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination board, in the statement. “The good news is that our faith and values give us strong reason to support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.”

Anne Underwood, a director of the Catholics for Marriage Equality board, said the group believes civil marriage must include same-sex couples.

“Catholics for Marriage Equality is working across the state to give Catholics the opportunity to voice their conscience on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” she said in the prepared statement.

While nationally the Episcopalian church still is debating this issue, many Maine Episcopal clergy, including Bishop Stephen Lane, have announced their support for Referendum No. 1. Some Maine Methodist and Lutheran ministers also plan to encourage congregants to reach out to conflicted people of faith and share their stories of how they came to reconcile their faith with support of marriage equality. Conservative and reform Jewish clergy in Maine have made their support of Referendum No. 1 public, and plan to use Rosh Hashanah, which begins Sunday, to affirm the message of equality, according to the release.

Additionally, several United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist communities are planning activities during their regularly scheduled services, as well as community forums, from now until Election Day.

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