A group of nearly 40 conservative religious leaders released an open letter on Jan. 12 that seeks to reframe the battle over same-sex civil marriage as a threat to their freedom of religion.
And in a new tactical twist, the signatories say their concern is not that their ministers will be forced to preside at same-sex weddings. Rather, they say allowing gays to wed would end up ”forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations — throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies — to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalence of marital sexual conduct.”
The signatories include New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. It also includes the Bishop of Oakland, California, the Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone.
”There is no doubt that many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law and church and state conflicts will result,” the leaders caution, in the letter, entitled ”Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together.”
The signatories say that faith-based adoption agencies would be required to place children with civilly married same-sex couples and that religious employers would be required to extend medical health care benefits same-sex spouses.