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Clergy Condemn Anti-Gay Federal Amendment

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Clergy Condemn Anti-Gay Federal Amendment

by Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

May 22, 2006 - 7:00 pm ET

(Washington) As the US Senate prepares to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage several dozen Christian and Jewish leaders made the rounds on Capitol Hill Monday lobbying senators to reject the measure when it comes up for a vote about two weeks from now.

At a news conference the Reverend Paul Simmons said the amendment "has the smell and feel of Salem," comparing its supporters to the colonial Puritans who burned witches.

The Reverend Kenneth Samuel, a Georgia pastor and N-double-A-C-P officer, said many black pastors oppose gay marriage because they've been "bought out" with faith-based initiative money.

The largest branch of Judaism also is urging senators to vote against the measure.

"The Reform Jewish Movement calls on Senators to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment when it comes to the Senate floor," said Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.

"The Federal Marriage Amendment constitutionally fetters an entire community of Americans, relegating them to second class citizenship," said Feldman in a statement.

"Religious institutions have the right to decide which partnerships they will and will not sanctify in their houses of worship. The government, however, should not codify the religious views of some, nor should it deny equal rights to all of its citizens."

Feldman said that rabbis and members of Reform congregations nationwide will lobby senators in advance of the vote.

Reform Judaism has 1.5 million members in more than 900 congregations across North America.

The proposed amendment last week passed its last hurdle before moving to the full Senate. The move was not unexpected. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said earlier this year that he wants a vote in early June, an indication he intends to use it as a campaign issue this fall.

The proposed amendment would bar same-sex couples from marrying, block courts and state legislatures allowing gay marriage, nullify marriages already performed in Massachusetts - the only state in the country where they are currently legal - and according to critics possibly block civil unions and override domestic partner laws.

The amendment was introduced by Senator Wayne Allard and reads: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

The second sentence, which could be used to broaden the scope to include civil unions and partner benefits, could be removed before the issue comes to a full Senate vote. Some GOP amendment supporters have indicated they would vote against the measure if the sentence remains.

The proposed amendment is almost identical to one which failed to get enough votes in 2004.

©365Gay.com 2006

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