To the Editor:
There is another element to the attempt to amend the Tennessee (and Federal) constitution to limit marriage to heterosexuals, which was not mentioned by Eric Tyson in his informative Nashville Eye (May 21). These efforts are threats to the American principle of separation of church and state, which has served us so well since the First Amendment was added over two centuries ago.
It is not proper for government to write the marriage practices of one segment of the religious community into the constitution. Clergy of several denominations bless same-sex partnerships. Among these are the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association, and Union for Reform Judaism. Government should not invalidate such actions and give preference to majority religious practices.
Individual clergy within other denominations also perform such sanctification. Although they do not perform such marriages, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) strongly oppose a marriage amendment because it would subvert our nation’s commitment to religious pluralism and because of the effect on the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
Your friends and neighbors need to be informed of these facts before time to vote. There is no threat to heterosexual marriage. The Religious Right merely wants to use scare tactics to whip up its members and take us further along the path to theocracy.
Charles Sumner, President-Emeritus
Nashville Chapter Americans United for Separation of Church and State