Indiana clergy group asks lawmakers to avoid marriage battle

INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — An Indiana interfaith clergy group is repeatedly urging the state legislature to avoid any battle over gay marriage.

The Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), which is based in Indianapolis, published a letter this week signed by more than 230 clergy and leaders of faith communities from throughout the state.

The letter asks the legislature to stop further action on the Marriage Discrimination Amendment, which was passed by the 2011 legislature and is eligible for consideration in the current biennium.

“We as faith leaders ask the legislature to concentrate on matters which deserve attention,” said Rev. Marie Siroky, a United Church of Christ ordained minister and president of the coalition. “Religious freedom allows each faith community and denomination to decide for themselves the tenets of their faith, including marriage. Laws cannot be made based on one particular religious view. There is no common-sense reason to devote weeks of attention to this Amendment when Hoosiers need a new budget, jobs and we have a new governor building a new administration.”

ICON was founded in 2000 to promote a broad faith community consensus on civil rights issues.

Below is the letter the group published:

Dear Senator and Representative,

In 1998 a group of clergy and members of faith communities began holding prayer services and vigils outside the Statehouse in protest of proposed legislation restricting marriage equality and other justice issues. In 2000 a coalition was formed, and in the 15 years since the first vigil, hundreds of clergy, churches, and faith communities across Indiana have continued to oppose legislation, which would define, and limit, the rights of marriage for same- sex couples.

As Indiana clergy, leaders of faith communities, and religious professionals, our backgrounds and those of the people we serve vary widely. Our views on marriage differ. But we speak with one voice to oppose amending the Indiana Constitution to define marriage.

The proposed "Marriage Amendment" would strip civil rights from committed same-gender couples. As many of us affirmed when supporting legislation to prevent sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, public accommodations, and housing, each of our faith traditions emphasizes justice. For our society to be just, the civil rights of all people, even those with whom we may disagree, must be protected. We should not be writing discrimination into our State Constitution. This fact alone merits rejection of the Marriage Amendment.

As early as 2005, an Indiana University Center for Survey Research poll demonstrated that the majority of Hoosiers would favor legislation providing hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights for same-gender couples. It strains credibility that such legislation could be enacted, let alone survive legal challenge, under the proposed Marriage Amendment’s prohibition against the “incidents of marriage” being legally conferred upon unmarried couples. We find the blanket constitutional exclusion of same-gender committed couples from such rights unconscionable.

We are also persuaded the proposed Marriage Amendment would interfere with religious liberty.
Each of the signatories respects the right of religious groups to decide whether or not to sanction marriage or other unions of same-gender couples. The Indiana Bill of Rights guarantees the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, and prevents the giving of a legal preference to any creed. Preferring and codifying one particular religious view of marriage in the Indiana Constitution flies in the face of both of these guarantees.

The drafters of the Indiana Constitution included six provisions in the Bill of Rights that sought, in various ways, to ensure that the government does not interfere with, or direct, religious beliefs or practices. We ask you to respect this grant of religious freedom and allow Indiana’s various faith communities to continue to discern their individual paths with respect to same-gender marriage or other same-gender unions.


Metropolitan Community Churches, the United Church of Christ, Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist, Unity, Conservative Judaism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and certain Quaker sects perform and affirm same-sex marriages, many for decades. Episcopal, Presbyterian, and certain Buddhist and Muslim sects bless same-sex unions. Many other faith communities leave the decision to the local congregation.

The Marriage Amendment would increase discrimination and undermine religious freedom. We urge you to vote against further legislation on the amendment.

Respectfully submitted,
Rev. Marie E. Siroky, United Church of Christ
President, Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination
RevMarieSiroky@gmail.com
317-902-5830
Rev. Jeff Miner, Life Journey Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Judith Carson, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Rev. Kevin D. Rose, Cumberland First Baptist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Marie Siroky, UCC, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Indianapolis
Rex A. Sprouse, Presiding Clerk, Fall Creek Friends Meeting, Pendleton
Rev. Michael Cooper, Pastor, MCC Illiana, Portage
Debra Barton Grant, Executive Vice President, Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, South Bend
Rev. Lori L. Adams, General Offices Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Pastor Samuel T. Adeyanju, Christ Apostolic Church (Solution Center) Indianapolis, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. Charles W. Allen, Episcopal Church, Grace Unlimited Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry at Butler, Indianapolis
Rev. Rebecca J. Jimenez, American Baptist, Bloomington
Pastor Ryan Ahlgrim, First Mennonite Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. James Higginbotham, Earlham School of Religion, Richmond
Rev. James D. Allen, Light of the World Baptist Church, Indianapolis
Kevin R. Armstrong, Pastor United Methodist Church
Rev. Sharon Aulds-Steir, Hospice
Rev. Jenny B. Badenhop, United Church of Christ
Rev. Lynette Carlson, Unity of Bloomington, Bloomington
Rev. Kevin S. Fleming, First Presbyterian Church, Evansville
Rev. Marie F. Fleming, North Christian Church, Columbus
Rev. Robert S. Bates, Allisonville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Margaret S. Bates, Allisonville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Rev. Julia Bebeau, chaplain, Cumberland First Baptist Church
Prof. Dr. Matthias Beier, Christian Theological Seminary
Pastor Joshua Brown, West Richmond Friends Meeting, Richmond
J. Brent Bill, Minister Religious Society of Friends, Indianapolis
Dr. Helene Russell, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis
Rev. James A. Rutherford, United Church of Christ
Betty Greene Salwak, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Linda McCoy, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Linda M. McCrae, Central Christian Church, Indianapolis
Pastor Melody Merida, LifeJourney Church MCC, Indianapolis
Rev. Paul D. Arnold, Columbia City United Methodist Church, Columbia City.
Rev. Dr. Rachel A. Metheny, Broadway United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Lori E. Bievenour, St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Carmel
Pastor Alan P. Blakeburn, Ellenberger United Church of Christ, Indianapolis.
Rev. George P. Hoy, American Baptist, Evansville
Rev. Karen Husby, Evangelical Lutheran, Evansville
Howard E. Boles, Roberts Park United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
The Rev. Jeffrey Bower, St. John's Episcopal Church, Speedway
Rev. Stephen C. Gray, (retired) Conference Minister, Indiana Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ, Indianapolis
Yvonne Brandenburg, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. Calvin Brandenburg, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Rev. Donald R. Buckthal, (retired), St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Carmel
Rev. Patricia R. Case, Central Christian Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Darren Chittick, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Richard L. Christopher, (retired pastor), United Methodist Church, Franklin
Rev. Glen A. Clarkson, (retired), United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Cheryl Cloar, Christian Church Disciples of Christ , Pittsboro
The Rev. Dr. Bruce C. Clear, All Souls Unitarian Church, Indianapolis
Richard R. Clough, (retired) First Congregational Church - United Church of Christ, Indianapolis
Rev. Clarinda E. Crawford, Congress Street Church, Lafayette
Nancy DIckinson, Commissioned Minister United Church of Christ,Indianapolis
Rev. George W. Davis, (retired), United Methodist Church
Rev. James H. Ellerbrook, (retired), Christian (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Patricia Engel, Epworth United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. David R. Ferner, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Franklin
Rev. Julia Bebeau, chaplain, Cumberland First Baptist Church
Rev. Russ Abel, Saint Joseph UMC of Fort Wayne
Rev. Jay E. Abernathy, Jr., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne, retired
Rev. David Baker, D.Min., APC, United Church of Christ, Muncie
Rev. Melissa Bennett, Pastor for Worship & Youth, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Fort Wayne
Rev. Kurt Borgmann, Manchester Church of The Brethren, North Manchester
Rev. John Vertigan, Conference Minister United Church of Christ, Indiana Kentucky Conference
Karen Walker, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Rev. Kurt Walker, Faith United Church of Christ , Indianapolis
Rev. Clyde C. Flannery, D.D., D.Min, United Church of Christ, Indianapolis
Rev. Thomas Flight, (retired), United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Judith Fackenthal, American Baptist Churches USA, Indianapolis
Pastor Rodney Frieden, Castleton United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Very Rev. Robert Giannini, Canon Theologian, Episcopal Church, Indianapolis
Henry L. Gerner, Th.D., (retired), North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
M. Frisco Gilchrist, Central Christian Church, Indianapolis
The Rev. Steven M. Giovangelo, All Saints Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, retired
The Ven. Alice Goshorn, Archdeacon, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, Indianapolis
Rev. Richard E. Hamilton, (retired), North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. C. Mac Hamon, Castleton United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Mary L. Harris, Associate Dean, Christian Theological Seminary
Mark Havel, Pastor, Cross of Grace Lutheran Church, New Palestine
Stephanie Crumley-Effinger, Director of Field Education, Earlham School of Religion, Richmond
Rev. Richard T. Draper, Christ Episcopal Church, Madison
Pastor Joseph N. Easley, Central United Methodist Church, Evansville
Rev. Joe G. Emerson, (retired), United Methodist Church, Bloomington
Rev. Robert L. Epps, (retired), United Methodist Church, Bloomington
Rev. Laurie A. Hearn
Rev. Dr. Holly E. Hearon, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. Carolyn Higginbotham, Indianapolis Action Congregation Network, Indianapolis
The Rev. Thomas Honderich, All Saints Episcopal Church, Indianapolis.
Charles I. Johnson, North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Bill Johnson, Indianapolis
Rev. Verity A. Jones, Christian (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
The Rev. Donald I. Kaufman, United Church of Christ, Carmel
Rev. Jayne Kercheval, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Rev. Glenn Kimball, United Church of Christ, Indianapolis
Rev. Larry Kleiman, St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Carmel
Rev. Keith Kriesel, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Indianapolis
Rev. John H. Krueger, United Church of Christ,
Rev. Randy Kuss, Speedway Christian Church, Speedway
Dr. Patrick Larracey
Chaplain Mary Z. Longstreth, Faith in Community Ministry, Indianapolis
Rev. Meredith C. Loudon, United Church of Christ, Indianapolis
Rev. Denise A. Malayeri, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Rev. Michael Mather, Senior Pastor, Broadway United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
The Rev. Sandra B. Michels, St. Francis In-The-Fields Episcopal Church, Zionsville
Dr. M. Kent Millard, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
The Rev. Dr. Rick L. Miller, First United Methodist Church, Shelbyville
Rev. Tamera L. Mills, Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis
Dr. M. Kent Millard, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Dr. Richard W. Moman, Pastor, Church of the Saviour UMC Indianapolis
Dr. Dan P. Moseley, Professor, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. Keith J. Phillips, American Baptist, Indianapolis
Rev. Richard Propes, Northview Church of the Brethren
Rev. Patricia S. Reid, H.R., Presbyterian Church (USA), Noblesville
Rev. Suzanne Reese, The Church Within, Indianapolis
Joseph A. Ridenour, Ordained Minister, Speedway Christian Church, Speedway
Rev. Philip W. Rieman, Northview Church of the Brethren, Indianapolis
Rev. Jennifer Riggs, Christian (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Rev. Leon M. Riley, Church, Indianapolis
Fr. John P. Roof, St. Augustine Episcopal Church, Danville
Rabbi Dennis C. Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis
Rabbi Sandy E. Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis
Rev. Dr. Carolyn J. Scanlan-Holmes, Avon Christian Church, Avon
Rev. Lisa D. Schubert, North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Robert J. Shaw, Christian (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Rev. Lorna A. Shoemaker, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis
Rev. Scott Smith, Arlington Heights Baptist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Carole A. Sowle
Rabbi Aaron Spiegel,, Butler University Hillel, Indianapolis
Rev. Diane Shockley-Spleth, Allisonville Christian Church, DOC, Indianapolis
Rev. Scott Smith, Arlington Heights Baptist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Richard L. Spleth, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Indiana, Indianapolis
Rev. Paulette E. Stahlke, St John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Elwood
Dr. Marti J. Steussy, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis
Rev. Nancy E. Stimson, Broadway United Methodist Church, Indianapolis
Rev. Deborah Strock-Kuss, Allisonville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis
Pastor P. Michael Thornburg, Danville Friends Church, Danville
Dr. Edgar A. Towne, Professor of Theology Emitus, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis

 

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