Quakers Witness to Marriage Equality

As members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) we have a long-standing commitment to the equality of all individual human beings, as expressed not only in the teachings of Jesus and in our own Quaker faith tradition, but also in the Declaration of Independence, which declared equality the basis for creating the independent nation which became the United States. We consider our support of same-sex marriage to be of a piece with our tradition of Quaker witness to equality. This tradition includes honoring equality between men and women (by working for women’s education, right to vote, and equal property rights), and between races (by working to end slavery, to support civil rights, and to legalize interracial marriage).

Because of this witness and out of our prayerful discernment the Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting declares publicly that we will no longer serve as an agent of the State in certifying the legality of marriages carried out under our care, so long as the State of North Carolina declines to recognize the legality of non-heterosexual marriages. Although couples seeking legal certification of their marriage will need to do so in a civil procedure, the meeting will continue to celebrate marriages of couples under our care, regardless of sexual orientation.

This conscientious stand is not against the right of the State to give legal sanction to marriage. Rather we are witnessing against the injustice of the system as currently practiced. We honor the distinction between marriage as a religious sacrament, defined by a particular faith community, and marriage as an instrument of the state, protected by law because of the benefits it offers to civil society, a distinction that is part of the constitutional separation of Church and State.

In taking this position at this time, Friends stand with a growing number of faith communities. We especially recognize the efforts towards marriage equality of the local group “People of Faith for Just Relationships,” especially the public witness of two Asheville ministers, Joe Hoffman of the First Congregational Church and Mark Ward of the Unitarian-Universalist Church.

We welcome prayerful dialogue on this issue

-Approved at Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business 01st day 04th month 2007