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To Stand on the Side of Love

Interweave Continental En Español

    I rejoice at the Supreme Court's unanimous decision to affirm the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This ruling, based on the equal protection guarantee in the Iowa constitution, recognizes the necessity for equal treatment under the law of all citizens. This decision will strengthen committed same-sex couples and their families in Iowa, and bring us one step closer to full legal equality for all Americans. A few days ago Sweden became the fifth European country to recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and Americans can take pride that we continue our climb toward the same goal.
    I want to thank the courageous Iowa justices and to applaud the many Unitarian Universalists who have worked tirelessly for marriage equality. The plaintiffs Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan were married in the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines by Rev. Mark Stringer. I am proud that a Unitarian Universalist congregation honored the commitment of these two exceptional young men and supported them in their marriage and in their struggle for legal recognition.
    Today we celebrate, but we know that the struggle for marriage equality is far from over. Until all of our nation's marriage statutes are free of discrimination, the Unitarian Universalist Association will stand on the side of love and advocate for full legal rights for committed same-sex couples.
    Gay Marriage Needs a Vote

    (Boston February 23, 2009) Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

    Same-sex couples deserve full equality under the law, and that includes the right to marry. For the last decade or so, members of the Rhode Island State Legislature have regularly proposed bills to allow same-sex couples to marry only to see the issue die in committee without coming to a vote. This week, the State Senate Judiciary Committee is expected, once again, to hear testimony on a bill allowing gay marriage; a House committee may do so next month. These will be empty gestures, once again, if the bills go no further. Proponents should redouble their efforts to propel them to the floor of both houses, where a favorable vote could help raise the issue in the national consciousness. Rhode Island is bounded by the only two states that recognize gay marriage: Connecticut and Massachusetts. In both states, the courts, not the Legislatures, acknowledged the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Connecticut and Massachusetts Legislatures approved civil unions before the courts took the extra step of providing gay couples with full rights. Advocacy groups like Marriage Equality of Rhode Island are pushing for full rights rather than the separate-but-equal status of civil unions. They argue, correctly, that anything less is unfair. California’s courts also supported the marriage rights of gay couples, but voters rescinded the right in November through the infamous Proposition 8, a referendum that is now being challenged in court. Marriage between same-sex couples faces formidable roadblocks in Rhode Island. It is opposed by three top leaders: a Republican, Gov. Donald Carcieri; and two Democrats, the speaker of the House, William J. Murphy, and the Senate president, M. Teresa Paiva Weed. State Representative Arthur Handy attracted only four sponsors when he submitted a same-sex marriage bill in 2003. The bill he intends to file later this week is expected to have as many as 30 co-sponsors out of 75 House members. That is certainly progress, but what Mr. Handy and the state’s gay couples ultimately need most of all is a favorable vote on the House and Senate floors.

    (Boston October 10, 2008) Rev. William G. Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, issued the following statement:
    On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I rejoice today at the Connecticut Supreme Court's decision to end discrimination in the state's marriage laws and to grant the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. While civil unions have provided some legal protection over the past three years in Connecticut, they cannot confer the dignity and respect that comes with marriage. We know from our nation's painful history that separate is never equal. I thank the brave justices for honoring the spirit of the Connecticut constitution and extending its protections to same-sex couples. Today's decision strengthens thousands of families in Connecticut, and it offers renewed hope for committed same-sex couples across the country. Marriage is a civil right.

    (Boston - May 15, 2008) UUA President William G. Sinkford today applauded the ruling of the California Supreme Court and its historic support of marriage equality. The Court, in issuing its opinion said, "in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

    Sinkford responded: "I rejoice today in the California Supreme Court's decision to end discrimination in the state's marriage laws. On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I thank the brave justices for honoring the spirit of the California constitution and extending its protections to same-sex couples. Decades ago, California led the nation in affirming the right of inter-racial couples to marry, and it is fitting that the state now joins Massachusetts as a leader in full marriage equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. "I want to thank the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California (http://www.uulmca.org/main.html ) for their tireless work on behalf of marriage equality. UULM-CA was the driving force behind the Interfaith Amicus Brief in support of marriage equality that was signed by more than 400 clergy and religious organizations. I am proud that so many Unitarian Universalist ministers and congregations were signatories to the brief. "The California decision makes a profound difference in the lives of thousands of couples and families in California, and it offers hope for same-sex couples across the country. Marriage is a civil right."