The advocacy group "Evangelicals for Marriage Equality" responded to recent criticism from Christians arguing against the recognition of same-sex marriage by saying supporters of EME are not compromising Christian beliefs and are instead focused specifically on gay unions receiving the same government recognition and rights as traditional married couples do.
"We've been very clear in our Statement of Belief that it's not our intent to water down our faith or compromise our deeply-held Christian beliefs," EME spokesman Brandan Robertson told The Christian Post. "That's why we've focused specifically on government recognition of same-sex relationships — bestowing the same rights (e.g. hospital visitation, funeral preparation) and tax treatments on a committed same-sex relationship as we do on opposite sex relationships."
Asked to respond to an op-ed by Andrew T. Walker, director of Policy Studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in which he wrote that no "real arguments" were made to support same-sex marriages, Robertson said Walker was misinformed.
Walker's piece includes him stating, "This isn't just about Christianity's teaching on marriage. It's about the definition of marriage for society. It's about whether marriage is malleable, or whether marriage has a fixed social purpose that's been recognized throughout all of human history as something distinct from other relationships. To say that the union of a man and woman is different is not grounded in bigotry or discrimination. It's grounded in the powers of observation that draw rightful distinctions between different sets of relationships."
Robertson disagrees on making distinctions between types of unions and wrote in an email to CP: "Walker misunderstands the goal that Evangelicals for Marriage Equality is working toward."
He added, "Walker rejects the suggestion that he's asking the government to uphold Christian orthodoxy, yet in the next sentence asks the government to 'tell the truth about marriage' — a truth that he pulls directly from our shared religious faith. And for reasons that we state clearly in our statement of belief, a religiously diverse society like ours can't rely on one religion's definition of marriage in establishing who the government recognizes as married.
"Walker does take it a step further, arguing that the man-woman relationship is the 'basic social unit of civilization.' But his argument ignores reasons other than childbearing that a government would choose to recognize marriage. Family stability, for instance — the presence of two parents (of whatever gender) provides a loving and supportive household, either for children of their own or for the thousands of children waiting for a loving, adoptive parent."
Saying it makes "zero sense" to offer a set of benefits and privileges to "some couples but not others," Robertson pointed to hospital visitation rights and funeral planning as benefits "that share no particular gender or orientation distinction."
"I eagerly await the young evangelical that finally convinces me that the Bible and human history are wrong on marriage and that justice requires that both Christianity and society bestow marriage on same-sex relationships," wrote Walker in "An Evangelical Defense of Traditional Marriage."
"I saw a lot of emotion. I saw appeals to injustice and craven caricatures of Christianity, but I didn't see any real arguments," writes Walker. "In 800 words, there's not a coherent argument about the nature of marriage. And that's what this debate Americans are having is about, isn't it? It's about one question: What is marriage?"
When asked by CP why supporters of same-sex marriage have so adamantly taken a "civil rights" argument and approach to supporting same-sex marriage, Robertson answered:
"Our statement of belief doesn't use the 'civil rights' language in its description. Christians will disagree on that point, as they will on many other aspects of this issue. Our belief and our efforts focus specifically on civil marriage equality, where gay couples are afforded all the same rights as a married couple in the eyes of the government."