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Religious Leaders Square Off in Marriage Battle

Religious leaders are lining up in opposing coalitions over whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.
( [email protected] ) May 27, 2006 11:10 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) – Religious leaders are lining up in opposing coalitions over whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.

A group of religious leaders calling themselves Clergy for Fairness is campaigning against any such amendment. Among its members are leaders of Reform Judaism, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and other denominations.

Another group, the Religious Coalition for Marriage, is lobbying for an amendment that would define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. Endorsers of that effort include Roman Catholic cardinals, along with leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to take up the issue in June.

Clergy for Fairness says its members have different views on rights for same-sex couples, but believes a federal marriage amendment "reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil rights and ignores differences among our nation's many religious traditions."

"It is not the task of our government and elected representatives to enshrine in our laws the religious point of view of any one faith," the group wrote in a recent letter to federal lawmakers. "Rather, our government should dedicate itself to protecting the rights of all citizens and all faiths."

The Religious Coalition for Marriage counters that "the world's great monotheistic religious traditions" and "impeccable social science research" agree that when marriage is "radically redefined" or is "no longer the boundary of sexual activity," the result is damage to individuals, family life and social justice.

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