FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 13, 2009
New comprehensive effort to broaden, diversify, and deepen religious support for marriage equality
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced today a new strategic partnership with California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize California's faith communities on LGBT equality.
The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC's Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as support from the National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California. The partnership comes on the eve of an expected decision by the California Supreme Court on Proposition 8 which stripped away the right of same-sex couples to marry.
“This is a strategic partnership to not only expand and diversify CFE's impressive statewide work, but to ensure that California voters know that many people of faith support same-sex marriage," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Religion was too often used as a weapon against us in California, and we know whatever the court's decision, this is critical work in achieving full equality."
The Human Rights Campaign will lend significant resources both on-the-ground and collaboratively to California Faith for Equality. Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox and HRC field staff will assist CFE build capacity for a sustained, locally-driven public education campaign led by California clergy and supported by their congregants.
“We must harness this opportunity and help local clergy build advocacy for marriage equality into their routine work in congregations and train participants to utilize low-cost, high-impact public education that extends their justice ministries,” said Harry Knox, Director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program.
“At the core of many people's objection to same-sex marriage is religion,” said Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations. “This collaboration facilitates open and constructive dialogs within faith communities about the inherent worth and dignity of all of God's creation and the shame that is created when people are forced to live without integrity when their lives and loves are not valued.”
“The partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and California Faith for Equality is good news to all who are committed to equality,” said Rev. Abel Lopez, All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena CA. “I look forward to the work we will do together as we combine our energies to reach across differences toward the goal of liberty and justice for all.”
The elements of the partnership include:
--Develop a religious declaration of support for marriage equality that multiple faith leaders can endorse, and use it as a coalition-building tool to attract and build CFE's membership and voice.
--Prioritize those counties where Prop 8 passed or failed by seven percent or less, and build new coalitions while strengthening existing ones.
--Train clergy and lay leaders how to build advocacy for LGBT equality into their routine work with their congregations. Additionally, create a specific tool kit to help people of faith build support beyond their places of worship, and into their families and neighborhoods.
--Identify key religious spokespeople relevant to a local community and give visibility to those clergy and their congregations endorsing marriage equality.
--Create culturally-sensitive as well as denomination-specific material to help religious leaders and people of faith to talk about why supporting marriage equality is consistent with the tenets of their faith. This includes identifying and building coalitions and ties with faith communities of color.
--Work with progressive communities of faith to become volunteers and leaders if a marriage campaign is launched. HRC and CFE believe that communities of faith have much to offer in expanding that statewide, volunteer network.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
The mission for California Faith and Equality is to educate, support and mobilize California's faith communities to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to safeguard religious freedom.