September 16, 1998


Clergy Caucus Stands Together to Support Same Gender Marriage

by Wayne Marshall Jones

SAN FRANCISCO: On September 15, 1998 thirty clergy from eleven religious groups joined together in an interfaith service of celebration and made public commitments to provide holy union ceremonies to same-sex couples. Processing down the aisle of First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco, the colorfully robed clergy represented the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Metropolitan Community Church, several Jewish and Baptist congregations, and San Francisco's Zen Center, as well as the denomination of the host church. In a simple ceremony each member of the clergy spoke briefly and lit a candle to signify his or her commitment. Rev. Jim Mitulski of MCC/San Francisco spoke for the resolve of the group when he said, "We do not wait for permission" from church authorities to bless the union of same gender couples.

The Clergy Caucus of All our Families Coalition now numbers more than one hundred fifty Northern California clergy who have signed a public statement that "I have officiated or would be willing to officiate at the religious marriage of a same gender couple." All Our Families Coalition is a not-for-profit organization promoting the educational, social, and health concerns of individuals and families whose human and civil rights are at risk.

The historic worship service to affirm the right of same gender couples to marry was held to counteract the political campaigns of religious extremists against lesbian and gay families.

Said the Reverend Penny Nixon of MCC/San Francisco: "I can think of no more opportune moment than now to actively and publicly support same gender marriage, since it is a 'religious force' that is fueling the many forms of discrimination we are experiencing. There are many clergy who view the love a couple share as sacred without regard to the gender of the persons involved."

California Republican Senator Pete Knight seeks to consolidate this 'religious force' to collect seven hundred thousand signatures by September 21 to place a 'Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)' on the California ballot in the year 2000.

Contact: Cheryl Deaner
All Our Families Coalition