11/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Clergy Stand Up for Marriage -- Same-Sex and Otherwise

The conventional wisdom is that religious people oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples. The conventional wisdom is wrong. This Unitarian Universalist minister is thrilled that I can now perform legal marriages for lesbian and gay couples in my home state of Connecticut. And I am hardly alone.

Today in California, my organization -- the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing -- is announcing that more than 2,200 ordained clergy from across the country are calling for full equality for same-sex couples in both religious and civil marriage. In an "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality", they call for "marriages based on responsibility, equity, and love, without restrictions based on the biological sex, procreative potential or sexual orientation of the partners."

This is quickly becoming the mainstream position. The clergy who endorsed the "Open Letter" represent a cross-section of American faith, including local priests, ministers, rabbis and imams from every state in the country, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. They come from more than 50 faith traditions, from Roman Catholic to Eastern Orthodox, American Baptist to United Church of Christ, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Unitarian Universalist and Interfaith.

Nationwide, in both secular and religious circles, support for marriage equality is growing. The reason, I believe, has partly to do with society's embrace of lesbian and gay people, but even more so with the understanding that same-sex marriage is actually a pretty traditional idea. Marriage equality is a means of strengthening families and encouraging stable, respectful relationships. It fulfills the biblical call to do justice and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It allows clergy to solemnize marriages according to the dictates of their own faith, without the government favoring one religious belief over another.

On Election Day, voters in California will decide whether to keep marriage for same-sex couples legal, while voters in Arizona and Florida will decide whether to enshrine marriage discrimination in their state constitutions. These citizens have an opportunity to stand for fairness, in matters of family and faith. I pray they make the right choice.