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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 14 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 07
Catholics join Mormons, Southern Baptists, conservative Lutherans to oppose marriage equality
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Catholics join Mormons, Southern Baptists, conservative Lutherans to oppose marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Roman Catholics, Mormons, Southern Baptists, and Missouri Synod Lutherans may not agree on much else, but they are all united on preventing Gay and Lesbian couples from marrying.

The denominations joined in a 42-page brief filed with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as it considers the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma.

Written by Catholic and Mormon officials, the brief got the approval of the most conservative branches of the Baptist and Lutheran churches.

The American Baptist Church - represented in Seattle by Seattle First Baptist, University Baptist, and Mt. Zion Baptist, among others - supports marriage equality. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the country's largest Lutheran group, accepts LGBT clergy and same-sex relationships, but has not definitively authorized pastors to perform marriages.

'Our respective religious doctrines hold that marriage between a man and a woman is sanctioned by God as the right and best setting for bearing and raising children,' the conservative church coalition says in its brief.

'We believe that children, families, society, and our nation thrive best when husband-wife marriage is upheld and strengthened as a cherished, primary social institution.'

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said on February 10 that religions should always be free to choose which marriages they perform.

But, Minter added in a statement, 'the state cannot exclude any group of people from a fundamental right based on religious views held by some. Our society is strengthened when the law both supports all families and protects the freedoms of conscience and belief.'

NCLR is teaming up with a pair of Salt Lake City attorneys to represent the pro-equality case before the Tenth Circuit.

The religious groups were also joined by 11 states who also submitted briefs opposing Gay and Lesbian marriages. The states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, and South Carolina.

By way of comparison, there were 16 states that signed on to the pro-DOMA and pro-Prop 8 briefs before the Supreme Court. Those weighing in on marriage bans before the Supreme Court included Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin; but Colorado and Nebraska did not do so at that time.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Brian Moulton said in a statement that he was disappointed in the state officials who submitted anti-equality briefs.

'As the country moves toward allowing all loving lesbian and gay couples the ability to make lifelong commitments through marriage, it's disappointing that these states would plant themselves so firmly on the wrong side of history,' he said.

'As Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring so eloquently stated recently in refusing to defend his commonwealth's ban in court, future generations will judge us by how we proceed with this issue.'

Attorneys for three Gay and Lesbian couples in Utah who brought the lawsuit against their state must file their response by February 25. Organizations who want to send in arguments in support of the couples have until March 4. Oral arguments in the Utah case have been set for April 10 in Denver.

The court will then decide if it agrees with a federal district judge who overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages saying it violates Gay and Lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The appeals court also is reviewing a similar decision about Oklahoma's ban, and a hearing on that case has been set for April 17.

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