By Harry Jackson
pastor of Hope Christian Church
Two weeks ago on April 7, a little before noon, I sat through the regularly scheduled monthly legislative meeting of the D.C. Council. There was only one item on the agenda that had to do with gay rights according to the printed agenda. For this reason, I was shocked at the boldness of the D.C. City Council as they voted to open the door for a marriage reciprocity measure that would allow anyone legally married in the nation to be legally received in the District.
It was obvious that the timing of the D.C. action was based on the perceived momentum that gay marriage activists have garnered during the last two weeks. Sitting in the chambers, I could see that the council had been waiting for the results from Vermont. In fact council members were quick to bring up the breaking news of that day and the previous week’s ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. They left nothing to the imagination, as they pushed for this measure to afford gay and other kinds of unions from around the world to have full rights of marriage.
One by one the council members unanimously declared their support of same-sex marriage and their desire to avoid being on the “wrong side of history.” Some even bragged about their leadership in this “civil rights” struggle.
Unfortunately everyone except the citizens had made their wishes known in this controversial arena. I left the council meeting wondering how legislators who are so out of touch with the feelings and values of their constituents could wield so much power. As a resident of D.C. who has lived in this region for 20 years, I felt motivated to write this piece because the voice of the people has not been heard. I felt robbed and disenfranchised as I observed “equality vigilantes” setting up an unjust concept of civil rights. Nobody was asking what’s best for the nation. “What will happen to the next generation?” was not a question considered.
In contrast on Monday April 20, I participated in a gathering of black ministers affiliated with the National Capital Baptist Convention at the Trinidad Baptist Church in Northeast D.C.. The real agenda of the gay rights movement seems to be more than just civil rights. The atmosphere of the meeting was charged with a combination of righteous indignation and hurt. The 70 or so ministers who gathered at that meeting were upset by the fact that the D.C. City Council’s marriage reciprocity law ignored the desires of the people. Minister after minister stood and declared their concerns about the gay agenda and how it would impinge upon their religious liberties.
All the pastors agreed that this law would essentially begin the process of opening the back door to same-sex marriage in America’s first city. The pastors felt hurt or frustrated by several things. First was the lack of response to their letters by the city council members and Eleanor Holmes Norton. Second, only local black newspapers carried an Op-ed written by Pastor Henry A Gastin, president of the conference. Not one of the major newspapers in the region had “interest” or space for his comments, which reflected the views of this group. Further, they articulated a sense of reverse prejudice as they interacted with the media. Similar to the treatment of Carrie Prejean in the Miss America Contest, they felt that their politically incorrect views have caused their voices to be intentionally muted.
This group took a historic step, not seen since the original civil rights days. They decided unanimously to mobilize their congregations and fellow clergy for the upcoming battle for the definition of marriage. They be will be connecting with regional and national leaders that share their concern. They set April 28 as the start of a major protest day to declare that the people nation’s first city is not for gay marriage.
In conclusion, as I reflect on both of my historic meetings, I am thankful for the freedom of speech and religion we enjoy in this nation. Further, it almost goes without saying that a battle of epic proportions is about to ensue. Despite our knowledge that the marriage issue is controversial, I think that the nation will be surprised at how massive the mobilization of the conservative faith community will be. There is a new dynamic at play in this D.C. area that won the day for traditional supporters in November — a new unity among black, white, and Hispanic leaders.
Bishop Harry Jackson is Chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and head pastor of Hope Christian Church.