In several states recently, citizens have voted to move forward with amendments to state constitutions to define marriage so as to exclude same sex couples from the sanctity and benefits of marriage. Two major networks have refused to air advertisements in which one of our country’s major Christian denominations declares that all are welcome, including gays and lesbians, stating that the ad is too controversial. As a community of faith the Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) finds these recent events troubling, and we believe that we can speak from experience regarding the inclusion of gays, lesbian, and transgender individuals, couples, and families in the spiritual life of our community.
In 1977, a nationwide Quaker organization called Friends for Gay and Lesbian Concerns was formed to provide voice to previously disenfranchised and suppressed homosexuals and their allies. In 1978, the American Friends Service Committee added gays to their affirmative action plan. In 1987, Madison Quakers wrote a position statement, which we call a `minute’, to affirm equal status in marriage. In that minute. it was stated: “Madison Monthly Meeting . . . intend[s] to follow the same customary and careful process of arriving at clearness for all couples who wish to unite under our care. At every stage we intend to treat all couples with the same respect, the same care, and the same status.” We took these steps, in part, because we believe that there is that of God in all people and that the voice of all is sacred. Love, honesty, commitment, and compassion are the measures of a successful and fulfilling relationship in love and community, not sexual orientation or gender identity.
In response to the current environment, in which the voices and gifts of lesbian, gay, and transgender individuals are being suppressed in government, the media, and in religious institutions, we are moved to speak out. We affirm that spiritual gifts are not distributed with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Our experience has been that the spiritual quality of our faith and practice has been enriched over these years by the full participation and leadership of lesbian and gay Friends.
We affirm our commitment to remain an inclusive community of faith and to acknowledge how enriched our spiritual life has been because of this. We celebrate the inclusion of individuals, couples, or families in all aspects of the life of our Meeting and provide care and nurture without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. We will work to support the rights of same sex couples within the State of Wisconsin.
The January 6, 2005 Meeting for Business approved the Meeting Clerk writing this minute and distributing it as appropriate.