Press Conference Statement re: OK Marriage Equality Lawsuit

The following was read by our Executive Director at the press conference to commemorate the filing of our amicus brief in the Oklahoma Marriage Equality lawsuit on March 17, 2014

          We, the members of the Board of Directors for the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, come from a variety of faith traditions.  Our faith traditions as well as our individual consciences represent a range of beliefs on the issue of same-gender marriage.  Although our religious traditions may disagree on the issue of same-gender marriage, on one point we are in total agreement:  we do not want the State of Oklahoma, nor any government entity, to decide which religious tradition we must follow.  Especially in light of the fact that our religious scholars and traditions disagree on this matter, it is of utmost importance that the rights, responsibilities and privileges afforded the civil institution of marriage should be granted solely on the basis of our shared Constitution.  Therefore, we are unanimous in our support of the plaintiffs in the Oklahoma Marriage Equality Lawsuit, and in our desire that the State of Oklahoma recognize the commitments of same-gender couples by granting them all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of marriage.

            As an authorized minister of the United Church of Christ, my religious freedom is threatened by the state of Oklahoma refusing to allow me to treat all members of my congregation equally.  At our General Synod in July, 2005, the United Church of Christ formally adopted a resolution affirming equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declaring that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry.  The resolution also called upon congregations, after prayerful biblical, theological, and historical study, to consider adopting Wedding Policies that do not discriminate against couples based on gender.

            As the former and current pastor of UCC congregations that have adopted such policies, my religious liberties, and my ability to operate in accordance with the teachings and desires of my denomination are severely restricted because the state of Oklahoma will not allow me to officiate at legally-binding marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples.  Therefore, I join with my friends, Mary, Sharon, Gay and Sue, and call upon the state of Oklahoma to cease its interference in my ability to fully function in my role as a UCC minister by requiring me to treat same-gender couples differently than opposite-gender couples.

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