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January 11, 2014

FLASHPOINT: Marriage ban contrary to U.S. law and Christian faith

TERRE HAUTE — HJR-3 (formerly HJR-6): “Section 2. Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana is amended by adding a new section to read as follows: Section 38. Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Central Christian Church has been part of the Terre Haute community since 1841 and an Open and Affirming congregation since 2006. As individual members and friends of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we are opposed to HJR-6 because it is contrary to the United States Constitution and the Indiana Constitution, and contrary to our Christian faith and witness.

While marriage is subject to state legislation, the power of the state to regulate marriage is not unlimited (Loving v. Virginia). In that same case, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival” — a view held by the Supreme Court since 1888. In the same way that states cannot restrict marriage by race, neither can states restrict marriage by sexual orientation because both restrictions are a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments (Loving v. Virginia, United States v. Windsor). The marriage laws of Indiana must apply equally to all its citizens (Indiana Constitution, Article 1. Bill of Rights, Section 23).

“(1) the fact that a State’s governing majority has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice, and (2) individual decisions concerning the intimacies of physical relationships, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form of ‘liberty’ protected by due process.

“The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government” (Lawrence v. Texas).

As with interracial marriages, there is neither a scientific nor a medical basis for opposing same-sex marriages. There is no legal basis for opposing same-sex marriages because there is no evidence of harm to government, society, families, individuals or different-sex marriages.

Our understanding and practice of Christianity is worshipping a God of unrestrained love and unconditional grace who continually calls us to be a community of justice and compassion. In those books of the Bible we call Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy — forgiveness is requested or offered 20 times. There are nine divine calls for justice to be offered to all people and for justice to be applied fairly and equally — even to immigrants and aliens.

We are told 19 times that the poor, the widows and orphans, and even strangers, are to be treated justly and compassionately and they are not to be allowed to go hungry or naked. The overarching message of the entire Bible is that we are to never be satisfied until there is justice for all (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42) and all are fed, quenched, clothed and healed (Matthew 25:35-40).

Thus, slavery has been outlawed and laws have been passed that enforce equal rights regardless of race. Women, instead of being chattel, have marital rights when divorced or widowed, can vote and own property, and have better employment equality. We continue to listen to God’s call by working for and demanding equal rights for all regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation (Galatians 3:28).

For these reasons and many more, both legal and spiritual, we call upon all, Indiana state representatives and senators to vote against HJR-6 and also to repeal the law banning same-sex marriages.

— Rev. Rebecca Zelensky, Senior Pastor

— Katheryn Ocampo, Ph.D., Chair — Elders

— Dr. William C. Hine, Elder; Douglas C. Sloan, Elder

And 35 other elders, officers, members and friends of Central Christian Church, Terre Haute

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