Group of clergy opposes Nevada's anti-gay marriage measure

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RENO -- A week after Nevada's Catholic bishops endorsed it, some members of the clergy have come out against the anti-gay marriage measure on the November ballot.

Fourteen religious leaders criticize Question 2 in a booklet, "There Is No Difference, Only Likeness," released last week by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Among those speaking out are Nevada clergy of the Reform Judaism, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist churches.

"The words and acts of progressive people of faith make it impossible for the religious right to claim a monopoly on holiness," said PLAN director Bob Fulkerson.

"One theme that comes out in their writing is that Question 2 is not about defining marriage, but rather about denying basic legal privileges to a group of people -- gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people -- and that is unjust and unholy," he said.

The initiative, which defines marriage as only between a man and woman, passed in 2000 with 70 percent in favor and needs to pass again this year to amend the Nevada Constitution.

In the booklet, the religious leaders maintain Question 2 is being used to stir hatred and promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

"Some of the efforts cast as 'preserving marriage' are a poorly disguised excuse for targeting homosexual people who may be striving for equal protection of their rights under state law," wrote Catholic priest Chuck Dorante of Reno's Bishop Manogue High School.

Opponents have said Question 2's passage would be used to influence state legislators to side against same-sex couples on issues such as joint property rights, estate inheritance, emergency health care authority and hospital visitation rights.

"I do not think we ought to be in a position in this country of restricting the civil rights of minority groups simply because we may not agree with them," wrote the Rev. Massy Gentry of Christ Church Episcopal of Las Vegas. "The goal of a just society should not be agreement. The goal should be a just tolerance."

The Rev. Bruce Taylor of Spanish Springs Presbyterian Church of Sparks said his church denounces housing and employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

"Jesus Christ is to be our pattern in all things, and ... he freely sought out, welcomed and befriended the outcast and the forlorn and others traditionally regarded as beyond God's mercy, and he was executed for doing so," Taylor wrote.

The religious leaders question the need for the proposal, noting state law already defines marriage as between only a man and woman and Question 2's defeat would not change that.

Earlier this month, Nevada's Catholic bishops said Question 2 "would best preserve the definition of marriage held by the Catholic Church -- a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman."

But they also said they would deplore any use of the initiative to generate hatred against gays or lesbians or their families.


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