As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote "No" on Proposition Eight. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 8th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition Eight, which would amend the state's constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court's ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state's citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.
Proposition Eight would reverse the court's decision and withdraw a right given. Proponents of Proposition Eight have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage. We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.
As bishops, we are not of one mind regarding how our Church's clergy should participate with the State in same-sex marriage. Some of us believe it is appropriate to permit our clergy to officiate at such marriages and pronounce blessings over the union; others of us believe that we should await consent of our General Convention before permitting such actions. Nevertheless, we are adamant that justice demands that same-sex civil marriage continue in our state and advocate voting "No" on Proposition Eight.
General Convention 2006 in Columbus passed Resolution A095 that said, "Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church's historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention's action calling upon municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions."
We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights. We believe that this continued access promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving, and hope.
The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California
The Rt. Rev. Barry L. Beisner, Bishop of Northern California
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real
The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, Bishop of San Diego
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