Post submitted by Sharon Groves, former HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program
Since joining the team in Rhode Island in January, I have watched our campaign here grow and activate communities across the state. Over the past three months, nearly 20,000 Rhode Islanders have asked their legislators to vote in support of marriage for all loving, committed couples. They have made phone calls, knocked on doors, testified at House and Senate committee hearings, and written letters.
Last week, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed announced that we should expect a floor vote in the Senate on marriage equality by the end of the month. We are close and we are focusing all of our energy on telling senators one last time how important marriage equality for families throughout the state.
Among the amazing volunteers working with the campaign have been a myriad of faith communities. The Episcopal Bishop Nicolas Knisely, the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran New England Synod James Hazelwood, the Rhode Island Council of Churches and the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry have all come forward to endorse the campaign. In addition, a new faith group, Catholics for Marriage for Marriage Equality, formed to give a voice to lay Catholics in support of the freedom to marry. The group has over 200 members and is adding members daily.
The activation of faith communities was evidenced during the Senate committee hearings. Fourteen clergy members testified in favor of marriage equality. Many of them stayed until 5:00 in the morning to have their turn to speak. It was demonstrated again last Sunday when the denomination heads of both the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association traveled to Rhode Island to speak for marriage equality. Over 300 people rallied, prayed, and sang with them. People of faith have been having heartfelt conversations with their senators in congregations across the state about marriage and have helped the campaign make a video against proposed exemption language.
We cannot thank our faith communities and their leaders enough for their hard work and commitment. They remind us all that faith at its core is about love and compassion, and our victory this spring will be due in no small part to their efforts.
Watch video on our extensive support from the faith community in Rhode Island below.