Obama Faith-Based Adviser: Same-Sex Marriages Count

By Nicholas Ballasy | May 25, 2011 | 4:33am EDT

(CNSNews.com) – Rev. Nancy Wilson, a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) should be repealed and Congress should pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“We come to our nation’s capital to tell our elected officials that our marriages count and that DOMA should be repealed. My marriage of 33 years -- made legal in Massachusetts in 2004 -- is not protected in my state of Florida,” said Wilson, the moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches during a press conference on Tuesday for the Human Rights Campaign’s "Clergy Call for Justice and Equality 2011” on Capitol Hill.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is a homosexual, bisexual and transgender activist group, founded in 1980. The DOMA, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage at the federal level as being the legal union between one man and one woman and says that no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state.

Bill Slimback, left, and Bob Sullivan of Whitehall, N.Y., exchange rings during their wedding ceremony at Moose Meadow Lodge in Waterbury, Vt., while Justice of the Peace Greg Trulson, a co-owner of the lodge, officiates on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Andy Duback)

“We need them to also pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and to protect the jobs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons,” said Wilson. “It is a failure of this nation’s moral and constitutional character to deny federal benefits to married couples or to deny job security to people who just want to feed and clothe their families.”

If it became law, the Employment Non-discrimination Act would prohibit employment discrimination based upon sexual preference or gender identity.


Rabbi David Saperstein, the director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and a member of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, echoed Wilson’s comments.

“We will achieve that dream of marriage equality by beginning and overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which raises such vexing constitutional moral concerns,” he said.

“No religion is forced to ritualize gay marriage, if they don’t want to, by establishing civil gay marriage,” said Rabbi Saperstein. “None affords to do so in a way that DOMA helps them one way or the other. It is the Constitution that protects those rights for them. DOMA simply restricts the rights that are accorded people in states all across America.”

In February, President Obama ordered the U.S. Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the DOMA in legal challenges.

"The president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," Attorney General Eric Holder said.

“Too many are being murdered. Too many are being bullied,” said Bishop Yvette Flunder, the founder of Refuge Ministries, at the press conference.

“Too many have committed suicide,” said Flunder.  “One of our elected officials said in Minnesota just yesterday: How many gay people does God have to create before the world will treat us equally?”

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