% IssueDate = "10/09/03" IssueCategory = "World" %>
Metropolitan Community Churches
In President Bush's proclamation, he wrote: "Marriage is a sacred institution, and its protection is essential to the continued strength of our society. Marriage Protection Week provides an opportunity to focus our efforts on preserving the sanctity of marriage and on building strong and healthy marriages in America."
"I won't mince words here," Reverend Perry said. "President Bush is wrong. He is playing the politics of division and he is pandering to the Religious Right. The President promised us "compassionate conservatism," but he has again failed to show compassion to millions of this nation's same-sex couples who deserve equality and justice under the law."
"The so-called "Marriage Protection Week" is misnamed," said Perry. "In reality, it is little more than another attempt by the Religious Right to deny civil marriage equality to America's gay and lesbian citizens."
Reverend Perry, whose churches perform more than 6000 same-sex weddings annually, countered President Bush's assertion that denying marital civil rights to gays and lesbians would strengthen marriage in America by pointing out the discrepancies in his statement.
""In a nation that upholds the value of separation between church and state, questions about the sanctity of marriage should be addressed in our nation's churches and synagogues and mosques, and not in our legislative halls," Perry said. "The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities pay taxes for the very rights we are denied access to. We cannot take sick leave should our loved ones become ill, we can't file joint tax returns, we can't even openly serve our country in the military."
Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) across the United States will join hands with many other faith communities to observe October 12-19 as "Marriage Equality Week," a week dedicated to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Christian denomination with more than 43,000 members and adherents in 22 countries.
To launch plans for Marriage Equality Week, MCC has unveiled a new section of its website at www.mccchurch.org that is specifically dedicated to the issue of same-sex marriage. The website includes a resource kit for use by local faith communities, ideas for local activists, a letter from MCC's founder, Rev. Troy Perry, and links to other civil rights activist groups.
"Metropolitan Community Churches' observance of "Marriage Equality Week" will provide a positive countervoice for all types of families, including gay and lesbian families," said Rev. Perry, a former delegate to the White House Conference on Hate Crimes and the first openly gay member of the Los Angeles Human Rights Commission. "During the same week that the Religious Right will work to deny a basic human right to gays and lesbians, hundreds to faith communities will take public stands in support of equality in the marriage laws for gay couples."
"We are not seeking special treatment," Reverend Perry added. "We seek equality. We are asking that the marriage laws be applied equally to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. That is the only gay agenda - equality for everyone under the law."
Reverend Perry wed his partner of 18 years, Phillip Ray DeBlieck, in Toronto earlier this year after Ontario's historic legalization of same-sex marriage in June. In July, he announced a Five-Step Plan to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S. that includes Valentine's Day demonstrations, partnering with other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activist groups and eventually, a legal case. At the present time, Rev. Perry's marriage and the marriages of hundreds of others who were legally married in Canada, are not recognized in the U.S.
"These are weddings that are blessed in the sight of God, but still not recognized by most governments," Perry said. "To not recognize my marriage and the marriages of thousands of other same-sex couples, would be discrimination - and we will not stand for that any longer."