120 NJ clergy sign open letter in support of LGBT marriage enfranchisement

(A full list of signers and represented denominations below the fold.)

This Thursday, the New Jersey State Senate will vote on the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act, which would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Today, 120 NJ clergy from 19 denominations signed a letter of support for the bill:

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 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.

Unfortunately, the representative denominations are very predictable: Metropolitan Community Churches, Unitarian Universalism, Episcopalianism, United Church of Christ, Buddhism, and Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative Judaism. Numerous Lutherans–I’m guessing ELCA–also signed. 

Surprisingly, there is one Catholic bishop–George Lucey. But he is not a Roman Catholic bishop. His parish, or rather his community, The St. Francis of Assissi Catholic Church of Essex County, NJ, is independently governed “in the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church,” but  unaffiliated with the Orthodoxy, or any external magesterium or other infastructure.

Also, Ethical Culture is listed. How a humanist organization can count as a denomination is something of a mystery to me. I mean, something like half of the contemporary members of the Unitarian Universalist Church identify as humanists, but they at least inherited a continuity of infrastructure from once-theistic Unitarian Church. Ethical Culture has only ever been a humanist community. Granted, (in spite of my personal qualms with them) I believe we need more humanist communities. (I even put Greg Epstein’s bulletin in this website’s links column even though I disagree with some of his methods and goals.) But I think they should distinguish themselves from religious organization-methods. That is, humanists should not present humanism as a godless religion, but nothing more or less than an ethical orientation which recognizes the fulfilling of human needs–material, psychological, social, aesthetic, political–as the ends of all meaningful moral action.

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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