A spectrum of views on gay marriage

Times Staff Writer

So what do the country’s leading religious denominations have to say about gay marriage?

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life compiled a report on the question last year and updated it in May, the same month the California Supreme Court cleared the way for gay weddings, which began this week.

Although attitudes toward same-sex marriage will vary among individuals, the Pew Forum assessed the positions of various denominations and religious groups.

The following, which includes just some of the entities the Pew Forum surveyed, is based on the forum’s research with additional Times reporting.


American Baptist

In 1982, the American Baptist Churches in the USA’s governing body, the General Board, declared that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Some individual churches, however, have welcomed openly gay members. American Baptist churches in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona broke away from the national church in 2006, saying the General Board failed to penalize churches that had welcomed gays.


Although some Buddhists call for tolerance, there is no official Buddhist position on same-sex marriage.


The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes gay marriage, saying that “marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman.” The bishops also have condemned violence and bigotry against gays and lesbians and said that they “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”


The Episcopal Church has not explicitly endorsed gay marriage, but in 2006 the church stated its “support of gay and lesbian persons and [opposition to] any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriages or unions.”

Some Episcopal congregations have split from the national church over gay issues and interpretations of Scripture.


At least one Episcopal congregation in California, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, has already hosted same-sex weddings.

Evangelical Lutheran

The legislative body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is expected to consider gay marriage and the ordination of openly gay ministers in 2009. A church task force in March recommended that the church continue to define marriage as a union between a woman and a man.


Although cultural attitudes may vary regarding gays and lesbians, there is no official Hindu position on same-sex marriage.


Homosexuality is considered a violation of Islamic law. The Islamic Shura Council, an umbrella organization for mosques and Muslim groups in Southern California, denounced the ruling allowing gay marriage, but the group also condemned “all forms” of discrimination.


The Reform and Reconstructionist movements support gay and lesbian rights, including same-sex weddings.

The Conservative movement does not sanctify gay marriage but does grant rabbis the autonomy to choose whether to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Leaders in Orthodox Judaism have defined marriage as a union between man and woman.


Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

In 2006, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod reaffirmed its position that same-sex marriage is “contrary to the will of the Creator.”


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”


The General Assembly, the governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has not explicitly addressed the issue, but in 1997 it prohibited the ordination of gays.

Issues concerning homosexuality and the church are expected to arise next week, when the General Assembly holds its biennial meeting in San Jose.

Southern Baptist

In 2003, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a statement opposing gay marriage. It also called on “Southern Baptists not only to stand against same-sex unions but to demonstrate our love for those practicing homosexuality by sharing with them the forgiving and transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).”

Unitarian Universalist

In 1996, the Unitarian Universalist Assn. of Congregations passed a resolution supporting same-sex marriage.


United Church of Christ

In 2005, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted to recognize and advocate for same-sex marriage.

United Methodist Church

In 2004, the church’s top policymaking body reaffirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman.




Marriage trends

Speaking of marriage, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life surveyed marital trends in its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, a portrait of religious life in America. Here are just a few examples of the report’s findings.

Marital status in selected U.S. religions

*--* -- Married Living with Divorced or Widowed Never -- -- partner separated -- married Mormons 71% 3 9 5 12 Evangelical 59% 5 13 9 14 Protestants Catholics 58% 7 10 8 17 Jews 57% 6 9 8 19 Mainline 57% 5 12 11 15 Protestants Unaffiliated 46% 10 12 4 28 U.S. total 54% 6 12 8 19 *--*


Source: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey interviewed more than 35,000 U.S. adults, drawing primarily on a nationwide survey conducted from May to August 2007.