Monday, October 30, 2006

Yea, Rick!

Rick Ufford-Chase is at it again. Way to go, Rick!
Arizona Daily StarPublished: 10.30.2006
Guest Opinion: Rick Ufford-Chase -- No on Prop. 107
Proposition 107 would explicitly deny any "marriagelike" benefits to persons who are not married and would constitutionally define marriage as being available only to persons of opposite gender. Like the broader society, the faith community is deeply divided on this issue.
My experience as the highest elected official of the Presbyterian Church (USA) from June 2004 to June 2006 gave me a glimpse into the passion and divisiveness of this debate. Though it is clear that there is currently no consensus in our churches to broaden the definition of marriage, our denomination has been clear that we will not become unwitting participants in any movement to isolate gay and lesbian persons as a group, nor will we condone discriminatory practices against the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender community from our legislative, executive or judicial branches of government.
This is entirely consistent with our denomination's historic advocacy for women, persons of color, undocumented persons, and those who live with mental or physical disabilities, all of whom also face the possibility of discrimination because of who they are.
I long for the day when all who desire to make a lifelong commitment to one another are able, as I am, to do so within the bonds of the covenant of marriage. Someday, it could happen. After all, the biblical story is full of examples of God's people being surprised by what God had in mind for them.
We Presbyterians believe that God is constantly being revealed to us in ways that challenge, trouble and occasionally delight us. For that reason, I will continue to be in dialogue with my sisters and brothers with whom I disagree about this matter.
As people of faith, all of whom are struggling to be faithful to their understanding of God, we must find respectful ways to wrestle with this and many other issues that divide us. However, what we must not tolerate are laws motivated by hate or discrimination, or that single out an entire class of people to be treated differently from the rest of us.
Prop. 107 would take away domestic-partner benefits such as health insurance from public employees. It would remove domestic-violence protections from unmarried persons. It makes simple things like the right to visit a loved one in the hospital impossible.
Questions of how marriage is defined will continue to be debated within our faith communities and across our society. In the meantime, let's assure that our laws embody the best of what our country has always been: a safe haven for those who might be targeted elsewhere because of who they are or what they believe.
Let's honor our country's history as a place of tolerance, mutual forbearance, care and concern for all members of our communities. Those are values that all of us, both in and out of the church, ought to be able to affirm.
Please, vote "no" on Proposition 107.
Rick Ufford-Chase was the Moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He now serves as the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. Write to him

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