Maine Clergy Divided Over Gay Marriage - NECN

Maine Clergy Divided Over Gay Marriage



    Maine clergy divided over gay marriage

    Mainers will be asked if they want the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in November (Published Friday, Jan. 17, 2014)

    (NECN: Amy Sinclair, Portland, Maine) - Standing together outside the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland, a dozen religious leaders-Episcopal, Congregational, Lutheran and Methodist - made the case for legalizing gay marriage in Maine.

    "This is about love, mutual respect," says Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill.

    Not according to the Roman Catholic Diocese or the Christian Civic League whose leaders say the Bible defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

    "It says homosexuality is unnatural and wrong," says Rev. Bob Emrich.

    For Emrich, who chairs the Christian Civic League and is the longtime pastor at the Emmanual Bible Baptist Church, marrying a gay couple would be unthinkable.  

    "I would never do it..could never be compelled to do it," says Emrich.

    These member of the religious coalition against discrimination say that's fine, because question one affirms clergy's right to refuse to marry couples for all kinds of reasons.

    "Saying yes on one does not take away religious freedom. It increases and celebrates the freedoms we share," says Rev. Ben Shambaugh.

    "I think they can say what they want, but they shouldn't deceive people into thinking there are no consequences," says Emrich.

    Even if religious leaders will be able to choose whether or not to marry same sex couples within the church, opponents of gay marriage worry that the business community outside may not. They worry about an erosion of their civil rights.

    Emrich says changing the legal definition of marriage could impact business owners in the wedding trade who might be  personally opposed to gay marriage.
    Anne Underwood, an attorney and practicing catholic who supports same sex marriage says that's discrimination and it's already illegal.

    "The Maine Human Rights Act says businesses can't discriminate against someone based on gender sexual orientation," says Underwood.