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Letter: Law protects many freedoms

Editor:

In your article on Harford County's push to repeal the Civil Marriage Protection Act, it is clear that a great deal of confusion surrounds the civil discourse of this ground-breaking law.

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First and foremost, the Civil Marriage Protection Act clearly spells out the protection of religious freedom. This law does not dictate or redefine religious marriage. The state does not have jurisdiction over religious rites or practices. No religious institution or leader will be forced to recognize or perform marriages counter to their religious beliefs.

Civil marriage is about public policy, not religious dogma. It is about securing civil liberties and legal support for all Marylanders to form families, thrive in community and strengthen the bonds of society in the public square.

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There is a wide spectrum of Biblical interpretation, spiritual discernment and sense of call around the issue of marriage equality. I have had the pleasure of advocating for marriage equality alongside Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist and other colleagues, who stand on the side of love and justice, with an equal regard for all souls and a humble embrace of the diversity of Creation.

We are blessedly free in this society to debate religious sensibilities. The only way to protect that freedom is to affirm that no single religious doctrine should dictate civil law. Religious institutions will be free to choose whether to welcome the full and free participation of their LGBT neighbors, but in the public square, all of our neighbors should have the same freedom to thrive, love and fully engage in society.

The legislators, who found it in their hearts to pass the Civil Marriage Protection Act, encouraged Marylanders to take one more beautiful step toward freedom and justice for all. Come November, I urge you to consider the well-being of the whole of community and vote to defend this law.

Rev. Lisa Ward

Havre de Grace

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