On the question of allowing same-sex couples to marry, there are churches, synagogues and religious denominations on all sides of the issue. Despite assertions made by columnist M.D. Harmon (“Religious groups overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage,” Sept. 14), religious freedom means that all churches — and not just some churches — should be free to make their own decisions in regards to solemnizing marriages between same-sex couples.

In Maine, there are more than 75 congregations — including more than 400 pastors, rabbis and lay leaders — who support the freedom to marry.

I am among that group. I’m the pastor of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church.

I got involved in this issue after prayerful consideration. My faith informs me, first and foremost, that God is love, and that we should do all we can to treat others as we ourselves would hope to be treated. For me, that means supporting the ability of all loving, committed couples to marry.

The United Methodist denomination, of which I’m a part, takes a different view. And that’s OK. That’s what religious freedom means. Each of us has the right to practice our religion as we see fit.

The citizens initiative ensures that churches, clergy, religious institutions and denomination cannot be required to host or perform any wedding that falls outside of their beliefs. It also guarantees that no church or religious institution could be sued for declining to host or perform a ceremony.

The specter of coercion or lawsuits is an all-too-common tactic used by opponents of marriage hoping to scare people into voting “no.”

I’m a Methodist pastor. I trust in God. I love my church and my community. And I believe that all of us are God’s children and that we should all be able to draw from the strength and stability that marriage provides.

The Rev. Michael Gray is the pastor of Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church.


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