Yesterday, Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke of the Oregon Synod (ELCA), along with a large, ecumencial group of clergy in the Portland metro area, signed a petition in support of putting a call for the freedom to marry on the November 2014 ballot in Oregon.
Bishop Brauer-Rieke also wrote a letter to members of the Oregon Synod, elaborating on why he signed the petition. In part, he said, he did so “because I am a Lutheran.” He went on to say:
“Lutherans have a unique understanding of marriage and the laws that support it. Martin Luther was clear during the Reformation that God gave the Church certain responsibilities, and that God gave the State other responsibilities. The Church is called to proclaim Christ. We are called to invite, forgive, welcome and heal. We do this through what we say and how we serve our neighbor. The State, on the other hand, is called to provide for the safety, equal protection and the fair treatment of its citizens. Marriage, Luther insisted, resides as a responsibility of the State because it involves the protection of children, issues of inheritance, debt and social recognition . . . .
“The legislation being proposed for the State of Oregon is about the protection of children. It is about the protection of children because without the benefits of same gender marriage, children in these households are not granted the same benefits, protections or regard that children with opposite gender, married parents receive.
“Marriage equality laws are about equal protection under the law for all citizens. As Oregon law stands, those in same gender relationships are denied rights to certain physical protections, hospital access, financial benefits and legal standing granted to those in legalized, opposite gender relationships –i.e. marriage.
“Marriage equality laws also maximize societal benefits that come from the protection and stabilization of families in general. In a day when marriage is being spurned, disrespected and ignored by so many, it is a gift to have people actually seeking to honor and pursue strong, marital, relationships. We want to support that.
“Protection of children is a value of mine. Fair treatment under the law is a value of mine. The support and respect of marriage as a central, societal institution is also a value of mine. I hold these values because I have been taught them by my church. I hold these values because every statement of my church, from 1970 to the present, speaking to issues of same gender relationships, has held that no matter how we might struggle around questions of sexuality and personal morality, we are all united around the need for fair and just laws that protect all people equally and work to stabilize society.”
ReconcilingWorks thanks Bishop Brauer-Rieke for his witness and advocacy for the freedom to marry. You can see the full text of the letter here.