City Sentinel Reporter
Last month a new public education campaign was launched to showcase and expand support for marriage equality in Oklahoma. The coalition called Freedom Oklahoma spans multiple religions and includes state and national organizations, faith and civil rights leaders and individuals.
Freedom Oklahoma is a project of The Equality Network (TEN), a 501(c)4 organization that lobbies for pro-equality legislation and public policies.
It came about after U.S. District Court Senior Judge Terence Kern’s January decision, overturning Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban.
Troy Stevenson, TEN Executive Director said, “We will lift up the voices of loving gay and lesbian couples as well as business, faith and civic leaders and Oklahomans from every walk of life who believe in the freedom to marry.”
After ten years of fighting for the freedom to marry, Oklahoma’s plaintiff couples, Sue Barton and Gay Phillips, and Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, challenged Oklahoma’s marriage ban before the 10th Circuit.
Litigation continues through the court system. This month the 10th District Court heard oral arguments on Oklahoma’s marriage equality case.
Thirty four faith leaders from the new coalition announced its support for the freedom to marry in Oklahoma.
The coalition, Oklahoma Faith Leaders for Marriage is comprised of leaders from a wide range of faith traditions who are committed to moving marriage forward for all Oklahomans.
Members and leaders of religious communities from Edmond, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman, Newcastle and Vinita have joined together to move marriage forward in Oklahoma.
Robin Meyers, Senior Pastor at Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, in Oklahoma City said, “I am honored to join a coalition of more than 30 leaders in Oklahoma’s religious community—myself included—to endorse the freedom to marry for all Oklahomans.”
“Our diverse coalition represents congregations of Mennonites, Methodists, Episcopalians, Unitarians and Baptists, who all recognize the importance of loving our neighbors and treating one another as we would all like to be treated: with dignity and respect.”
Meyers added. “As an ordained clergy in the United Church of Christ, I stand with my colleagues in support of those who argue that our highest moral imperative is love—and that includes the love shared by same-sex couples who want to marry.”
The coalition leaders say they are motivated by their deeply held faith, which compels them to speak out against Oklahoma’s marriage ban.
From Norman, Rev. Dr. Bruce Prescott, Oklahoma Faith Network said, “Central to my faith is the affirmation of liberty of conscience. That conviction is the foundation for the right to religious liberty that is inscribed in the First Amendment of our Constitution.”
Reverend Kelli Driscoll, Bethany Christian Church stated, “My congregation celebrates equality for everyone. This is an article of faith for me and my church—that all couples should be allowed access to the same rights and recognition no matter who they are.”
While the litigation makes its way through the federal court system, Freedom Oklahoma will grow the grassroots network of people throughout the state. They are committed to ensuring marriage freedom is available to everyone in the state.
“We all connect to God in our own, discernible ways,” said the Very Reverend Justin Lindstrom, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral “After connecting with my congregation, members of my community and couples from across the state, it became increasingly clear that love and equality compels Oklahoma to extend freedom to marriage for all.
“That is why I am a proud member of the faith community who sees marriage equality as an imperative for the state.”
Stevenson added, “Equality is denied to thousands of loving and committed Oklahoma couples, and that cannot stand. Freedom means freedom for everyone and every Oklahoman must be afforded equal protection under the law.”
For more information and a complete list of Oklahoma Faith Leaders for Marriage members, visit freedomoklahoma.org.
Freedom Oklahoma launches coalition of 34 religious leaders who support marriage equality
City Sentinel Reporter
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