Monday, October 27, 2008

A message from Bishop Frade opposing Amendment 2

October 27, 2008

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

After prayerful consideration, I have decided that it is my duty as a
Christian, and as your bishop, to urge the defeat of the proposed Amendment
2 to our Florida Constitution, which would define marriage as only between a
man and a woman. It seems to me that if we are to be faithful to our Lord's
commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, we should not be enshrining
in our state's constitution this discriminatory and potentially harmful

Not only would the passage of Amendment 2 infringe upon our religious
liberty by imposing a single religious definition of marriage on all
Floridians, regardless of their beliefs; but because of its wording, this
amendment could also deny many important benefits to all unmarried

While the amendment is clearly aimed at same-sex relationships, we know that
among our state's large population of retired persons there are also
heterosexual couples who have not married for fear of losing a portion of
their individual Social Security or pension benefits. In recent years these
persons, as well as partners in committed same-sex relationships, have been
able to receive protection for their rights under domestic partnership laws.
I cannot see how we can say we love our neighbors if we pass an amendment
that could put at risk for these couples such rights as the ability to visit
or to participate in medical choices for each other in illness or at the
point of death.

Faithful people have a wide range of opinions on the matter of same-sex
unions. Like our own Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion,
many other branches of Christianity, as well other faiths, are currently
engaged in challenging conversations about their own doctrines and policies
concerning marriage.

Despite this ongoing disagreement among people of good conscience, Florida
has already passed a law that defines marriage as the proposed amendment
would. However, some supporters of Amendment 2 have argued that a
constitutional amendment is necessary to protect clergy from being forced to
perform or recognize marriages that are contrary to their doctrine. I
believe this fear is unfounded: Because of the religious freedom guaranteed
by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, no religious group can be
forced to recognize all forms of marriage sanctioned by the civil
authorities. (For example, the State allows for and recognizes marriage
after divorce; the Roman Catholic Church does not. No Roman Catholic priest
is obligated by law to officiate at the marriage of any divorced person.)

Along with clergy from a broad spectrum of religious traditions, with
diverse views regarding marriage, I have added my signature to a statement
opposing Amendment 2. This statement can be found at

I believe that Amendment 2 is unnecessary, potentially hurtful, and a threat
to our cherished freedom of religion, and I urge you to vote against it on
November 4.


+Leo Frade

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida

No comments: