A consortium of religious leaders from various faith communities in the State of Rhode Island who have signed a Declaration of Religious Support for Same-Gender Marriage in the State of Rhode Island.
About the Religious Coalition
We celebrate that our state enjoys the blessing of religious diversity that is the fruit of our founder’s vision. Following this paradigm, we expect that no religious tradition be required to officiate or bless a marriage that it does not recognize as valid. But, we also expect that no religious tradition be prohibited from officiating or blessing a marriage that it does recognize as valid. We affirm that as a civic matter, it is the state’s responsibility to remain theologically neutral when enacting legislation that seeks to define civil rights, relationships and responsibilities. Equal access to marriage is a civic issue of social justice that the legislature is in the position to remedy.
If you are a religious leader interested in joining the coalition, please read the “Declaration.” You can register with the coalition by sending an email indicating your assent. Please provide us with your faith community affiliation, your leadership position, and location. If you serve as a chaplain, or if your residence is different from your church location, you may also want to give us your town of residence.
Thank you and May God bless you,
The Rev. Eugene T. Dyszlewski (Email Gene)
Chair, Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality
Declaration of Religious Support for Same-Gender Marriage in the State of Rhode Island
As religious leaders from various faith traditions we come together to assert:
- The most fundamental human need is the supportive love of other human beings, and that love is demonstrated in many ways
- The arc of God’s universe is toward justice, and we are called from out of our faith to pursue civil rights and fairness for all people
- The Divine, known by many names, does not ever side with expressions of hate or acts of discrimination
- The misuse of sacred texts or traditions to deny justice is wrong
- The freedom of religious belief and practice is paramount for a solid and healthy society
- The individuals entrusted with civic authority should not impose their personal religious beliefs, or any one interpretation of religious beliefs, on society as a whole, nor use them to deny rights to peoples
As leaders in faith communities we know there is a diversity of religious voices and interpretation of historical texts on many matters including sexuality, sexual expression and relationships. We affirm the right of freedom of conscience and differing perspectives of religious traditions in the matter of same gender marriage. But, with the many diverse, nuanced and multilayered interpretations and teaching of sacred texts we firmly believe it is improper for the state, and those who hold civic public office, to impose on society any theological position. We call upon the state officials to remember that Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams as a community open to religious diversity. We assert it is the state’s responsibility to remain theologically neutral when in discussion about defining civil rights, relationships and responsibilities.
As people of faith we understand the great religious texts and their interpretation by wise elders to say that marriage is the sanctified commitment between two people, and the gender of the individuals is not the determining condition of such union.
As religious people we are in pain when we see the emotional hurt, spiritual distress and social damage the denial of marriage has on individuals, and the harm to the welfare of families we know and love in our congregations and religious assemblies.
Furthermore, we remind the legislators and the people of this state that civil marriage is a legal construct.
Therefore we call upon the legislators of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to permit the civil marriage of same-gendered individuals, recognizing and affirm the stipulation that the no religious tradition be required to officiate or bless same gender-marriage.
Further, we commit ourselves to taking public action to provide education and support in the service of the right and freedom to marry by individuals of the same gender, as well as, by those of opposite genders.