Friday, April 14, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

OFFICIAL BOARD OF OLD FIRST REFORMED CHURCH
OPPOSES SO-CALLED “MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT”
TO PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTION

April 7, 2006, Philadelphia

On Tuesday, April 4, 2006, the Official Board of Old First Reformed Church, United Church of Christ, unanimously passed a resolution (see full text, attached) in opposition to HB2381, the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” currently under consideration by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The Official Board’s resolution opposes the amendment’s discriminatory definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, its potential to repeal significant rights and protections which support safe and stable families for gay men, lesbians, and their children, its violation of the principles of religious freedom established just blocks from Old First, and its incompatibility with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the principles of God’s love and justice.

On Sunday, April 2, 2006, Marta [lastnamedeleted], a member of Old First, shared a moment of concern about how HB2381, and similar legislation across the county, affects her and her family. Marta's partner, Julie [lastnamedeleted], is the director of music at Old First, and they have two children. “The most specific way the amendment would affect us is that we could lose our domestic partnership benefits, which we receive from the publicly-funded Philadelphia school district, where Julie is a teacher,” says Marta, who is a stay-at-home mom and serves as an Elder and as Church School superintendent at Old First. “But even more scary to us is the way this sort of legislation feels like an assault. Day after day we hear that our committed, covenantal relationship is a threat to the institution of marriage, that our loving little family is a threat to the very fabric of society! It seems like every day, there’s another bill or ballot measure, each one more severe and punitive than the last, until we have to ask ourselves, when is it going to stop? How much longer will we and our children be safe in this Commonwealth, in this country?” Following worship on April 2, many members of Old First participated in a letter-writing campaign in opposition to HB2381.

Founded in 1727, Old First Reformed Church is located at the corners of Fourth and Race Streets in historic Old City, Philadelphia. Old First strives to be a wellspring of faith for a diverse people in the heart of the city. Old First is proud to participate in the United Church of Christ’s “God is still speaking” campaign. We promise to all that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

[CONTACT INFORMATION DELETED]

RESOLUTION OF THE OFFICIAL BOARD
OLD FIRST REFORMED UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
APRIL 4, 2006

WHEREAS Old First Reformed Church is an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ, where we welcome into full membership persons of every race, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, and economic level;

AND WHEREAS Old First Reformed Church holds that discrimination is incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we commit ourselves to work diligently to end all oppression and discrimination which afflict God's people in our society;

AND WHEREAS Old First Reformed Church affirms all relationships founded on the principles of God's love and justice;

AND WHEREAS the Official Board of Old First Reformed Church finds that HB2381, the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment,” which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, would establish in the Pennsylvania constitution a discriminatory definition of marriage;
AND WHEREAS the Official Board of Old First Reformed Church finds that HB2381 would repeal significant rights and protections which support safe and stable families for gay men, lesbians, and their children;

AND WHEREAS the Official Board of Old First Reformed Church finds that in these ways, the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the principles of God’s love and justice;

AND WHEREAS the Official Board of Old First Reformed Church finds that the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” violates the principles of religious freedom which were established just blocks from our church;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: The Official Board of Old First Reformed Church, United Church of Christ, opposes the “Marriage Protection Amendment,” currently under consideration in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as HB2381, and we endorse any effort by our members to defeat this amendment.

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