Press

President of the United Church of Christ Endorses Marriage Equality

Date: 
June 29, 2005

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'Reverend Thomas understands that for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the national debate over full marriage equality is not simply about deciding a hot button issue, it's about our lives' — The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Religious Leadership Roundtable member and interim director of the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns

ATLANTA, June 29 — During the National Gathering of the United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns in Atlanta last evening, the denomination's general minister and president, the Rev. John H. Thomas, called upon the church's General Synod to pass a proposed resolution supporting full religious and civil recognition of same-sex marriages; the General Synod will vote on the resolution during its biannual meeting, which begins Friday, July 1. The United Church of Christ (UCC), which evolved from congregational churches founded by the Pilgrims and German immigrant and African-American communities, is a denomination of 1.3 million members.

Statement from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Religious Leadership Roundtable:

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Religious Leadership Roundtable expresses its profound gratitude to the United Church of Christ's general minister and president, the Rev. John H. Thomas, for urging his denomination to take a prophetic stance supporting marriage equality. As a church with roots at the beginnings of American history, the United Church of Christ (UCC) has shown historic leadership in inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in its ministry. Americans can find in the UCC's visionary leadership an example of faith and values in action at a time when gay people are being attacked and exploited by the far right wing under the guise of "deeply held religious beliefs."

The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Religious Leadership Roundtable member and interim director of the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns, said, "We are moved beyond words by Reverend Thomas' personal and pastoral embrace of our community. Reverend Thomas understands that for lesbian and gay people, the national debate over full marriage equality is not simply about deciding a 'hot button issue,' it's about our lives."

The Roundtable's prayers are with the UCC General Synod as it votes on this historic resolution.

Signed, the National Religious Leadership Roundtable Steering Committee:

Swami Dhumavati, Kashi Ashram

Bob Gibeling, Outreach Director, Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Network

Reverend Michael W. Hopkins, Integrity, Episcopal Church, USA

Reverend Jay Johnson, PhD., Programming Director, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry

Reverend Michael Shuenemeyer, Executive and Minister for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns, UCC Wider Church Ministries

Reverend Rebecca Voelkel, Interim Director, UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns


First convened in 1998, the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is an interfaith collaboration of more than forty denominations and faith-related organizations. The Roundtable seeks to reframe the public religious dialogue on issues involving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community by amplifying the voices of LGBT-affirming people of faith, countering religious voices of bigotry and intolerance, and working to advance full equality for all.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.