March 20, 2013
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BOSTON – The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined two amicus curiae briefs filed by dozens of religious organizations in support of marriage equality.
The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases of United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry on March 26 and March 27, 2013.
In the case United States v. Windsor, the substantive question before the Court in this potentially landmark case is whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional. Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.
In the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the right of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court's determination that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court agreed to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The UUA made essentially the same arguments in both briefs arguing that a broad cross-section of religious denominations recognize the dignity of lesbian and gay people and their relationships, recognize the necessary distinction between civil and religious marriage, and recognize that civil marriages of same-sex couples will not impinge upon religious beliefs or practices, but rather will prevent one set of religious beliefs from being imposed on others through civil law.
According to the briefs, “Almost seventeen years ago, in 1996, the Unitarian Universalist Association – discussed above regarding its practice of religiously solemnizing same-sex unions – formally resolved to support equal civil marriage rights in part because the marriage equality debate ‘ha[d] focused on the objections of certain religious communities’ to equal access to marriage. In 2004, the Association further affirmed that ‘Civil Marriage is a Civil Right,’ and opposed any amendment of the United States Constitution to bar same-sex couples from marrying.”
The UUA has a long tradition of support for marriage equality. Both briefs explain, “support for same-sex relationships in religious doctrine and practice likewise has informed a diverse array of formal marriage rituals. The Unitarian Universalist Association began celebrating the unions of same-sex couples as it would any other consenting adult couple’s union in 1979 and formally affirmed this practice in 1984.”
Religious organizations that have signed on to these briefs include the United Church of Christ, bishops of the Episcopal Church in a number of states, the Union for Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, More Light Presbyterians, Lutherans for Full Participation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and other religious groups.
A decision from the Supreme Court is expected by the end of June.
The UUA is a faith community of more than 1,000 congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance, and social justice.