I am Reverend Steve Parelli.

My faith background is evangelical and Baptist.  I
pastored the Faith Baptist Church of Sparta, NJ, for
about ten years before coming out in 1997 and starting,
at that time, a new life with my husband Mr. Jose Ortiz.

In the tradition of Roger Williams, Baptist founder of
Rhode Island and the author of religious freedom in
America, I would like to say this:

    Concession and toleration are neither freedom nor
    liberty.  They are merely other names for oppression
    because they are the allowance of that which is not
    wholly approved.

So then, in terms of Baptist teaching:   Civil Union with all
the “rights of marriage,” yet without the name of
“marriage,” is not freedom but a concession, is not liberty
but toleration; and therefore, Civil Union is but another
name for oppression.

In 2008, at the city hall of Sacramento, California, I
married the love of my life.  As we left the building and
began walking down the street, I felt something I had
never – in my 42 years of recognizing myself as a gay
person – felt before:  totally equal.  I cannot tell you what
it is like all your teen and adult years to feel less than as
a human being.  Jose and I had married with the need to
be sure we could care for each other legally.  I had no
idea how impacting the marriage would be in terms of
feeling equal like any other adult who lives and loves and
marries.  I felt like I was breathing in the American air for
the first time.  Marriage, not Civil Union, gave me that
sense of equality and belonging.

Strange, that the state of California could give me, an
evangelical Baptist minister, what the church could not:  
equality and belonging.

In the words of Albert Barnes, abolitionist and
Presbyterian minister “There is no power out of the
church that could sustain discrimination against
homosexuals for even an hour, if it were not sustained
within the church.”

Please ask yourself this:  If I vote my conscience, will my
vote limit the free exercise of the conscience of others?
You see, if you vote against marriage equality on the
basis of your religious values or on the basis of the
religious values of your constituents, then in effect you fail
to uphold my God-given right as a free moral agent to
determine for myself what God is or is not saying about
same-gender marriage, and you deny me my God-given
right to act in accord with those beliefs, and you confound
the role of the state with the role of the church.

Please, be the state (separate from the church), and
grant me my right
** in matters of conscience, religious
freedom and civil liberties.  Hear me as an American;
hear me as a Christian; hear me as a gay man. Vote
marriage equality.
On February 2, 2012, Rev.
Steve Parelli spoke before
the Assembly Judiciary
Committee meeting in
Trenton, NJ, in support of
marriage equality.

Below are his prepared remarks which he
read before the committee and which he
subsequently submitted to the committee.
*At this point, Rev.Parelli add-libbed that it was for this reason that he
opposed a public vote on marriage equality, that the public, by voting
their conscience, would limit the free exercise of the consciences of

**At this point, Rev. Parelli terminated his remarks when the time keeper
indicated that his three-minute time allowance was up.
In addition, Rev.
Parelli submitted to
the committee his
queer adaptation
of Gal. 4:21 - 5:1 in
which he contrasts
John Cotton and
Roger Williams.
Above photo:
Steve Parelli (left)
and Jose Ortiz on
their wedding day,
August 25, 2008.
This web page was created in and published from the Bronx,
New York, on February 3, 2012:

Visits to this web page since February 3, 2012:
On YouTube:  
Steve's Remarks to
the New Jersey
This story appeared in the
following news publications:

  • GLAAD, Monday, February 6, 2012

    Religious Leaders Support Marriage
    Equality in Maryland, New Jersey, and

    Monday, February 6, 2012 - 4:07pm by
    Miriam Lazewatsky, GLAAD's Faith &
    Campaigns Fellow

    "Voices of faith are speaking out in
    support of marriage equality throughout
    the country. Rev. Steve Parelli, an
    evangelical Baptist minister who married
    his partner in Sacramento in 2008,
    testified in support of marriage equality in
    New Jersey. In rejecting civil unions, Rev.
    Parelli quoted Roger Williams, the Baptist
    founder of the state of Rhode Island,
    stating: “Concession and toleration are
    neither freedom nor liberty.  They are
    merely other names for oppression
    because they are the allowance of that
    which is not wholly approved.” He
    continued: “Civil Union with all the ‘rights
    of marriage,’ yet without the name of
    ‘marriage,’ is not freedom but a
    concession, is not liberty but toleration;
    and therefore, Civil Union is but another
    name for oppression.” The Rev. Dr. Traci
    C. West, Professor of Ethics and African
    American Studies at Drew University
    Theological School also released a
    statement in support of marriage equality
    in which she expresses sentiments
    similar to those of Rev. Parelli."

    VIDEO: Other Sheep pastor tells New
    Jersey panel that civil union is a form of

  • News - New Jersey
  • The San Diego Evening Twitter
  • The Manifesto
  • New Jersey News Press.com TV - NJ
  • Opposing Views - "Religious Leaders
    Backing Gay marriage in NJ, MD, WA" - A
    copy of the GLAAD Article dated Feb. 6,
Rev. Steve Parelli photographs supporters of
gay marriage rights bill outside the
Statehouse before a vote on the bill in the
Senate Judiciary Committee this morning.
Parelli is the former Pastor of the Faith
Baptist Church in Sparta who left the church
after declaring he is openly gay. He is now
Executive Director of Other Sheep in the
Bronx, NY, an organization that is making
inroads on behalf of gay rights in the
ecumenical Christian community. Trenton, NJ
1/24/12 (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)
Photo from The Star-Ledger