Washington, D.C. — Interfaith Alliance today expressed praise for two court decisions this week that declared unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Interfaith Alliance has been a leader in efforts to increase support for marriage equality, to combat religion-based discrimination against LGBT Americans, and to create respect and understanding among people of all faiths and beliefs. Interfaith Alliance joined a friend-of-the-court brief in the case decided today by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in opposition to DOMA. The second case came from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy’s statement follows:
I am grateful that more and more federal judges are saying with the full weight of the law what Interfaith Alliance has been saying for years – the U.S. Constitution enshrines equal protection under the law and the freedom of religion, and no religion’s beliefs should be able to trump these rights by forcing its beliefs on any other American.
By declaring unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, these courts have put forward a powerful argument for why DOMA should be repealed. Because DOMA is a federal law, even same-gender marriages legally recognized in certain states are not considered valid at the federal level, denying even legally-married same-gender couples the same rights afforded to their neighbors. This is one of the many reasons Interfaith Alliance supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA. Under this legislation, though states would continue to be allowed to define marriage as they see fit and be able to determine which out-of-state marriages to recognize, the Respect for Marriage Act would enable same-gender marriages to be recognized as legal at the federal level.
The United States is a country that prides itself in being a democracy, where all are entitled to equal rights. In our America, marriage is a legal right that should not just be available, but also legally ensured, to all. When an individual is denied that right based on someone else’s religious values, the promise of religious freedom to all is violated.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.