By Michelle Boorstein
What kind of clout will D.C.-area clergy have in the coming gay marriage wars in the District? We may find out.
The D.C. Council earlier this month unanimously passed a measure recognizing same-sex marriages (and civil unions) performed in other jurisdictions, and a measure is expected to be introduced later this year to legalize same-sex marriages here.
D.C.-area clergy who oppose same-sex unions are forming a coalition, but only time will tell how influential they will be on the vote. Politics-watchers in the District have noted in recent years that local clergy don’t have as much political clout on politics in the city as they did in previous years, in part because so many D.C. churchgoers moved to the suburbs. On Sundays, church parking lots are filled with Maryland and Virginia license plates – not D.C. voters.
That said, of course D.C. politics are never truly local, as any bill approved by the Council and mayor must survive a 30-day review by Congress. Congress doesn’t typically try to stop locally-passed measures, and are even less likely to now that Congress and the White House are run by Democrats. But it could happen.
We’ll know more about who is involved as this coalition builds. Right now it’s being led by Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., minister of Hope Christian Church in College Park and a longtime (and outspoken) opponent of legal recognition of same-sex unions, and Rev. Derek McCoy, who used to work at Hope Christian and has become an oft-quoted African-American voice in other similar fights (notably California).
In a letter sent to clergy, the coalition says, “If we fail to act now, history will ask – ‘Where were the pastors?’” They are planning a rally at 10 a.m. April 28 at Freedom Plaza and calling on clergy to come to the May 5 Council meeting, when the earlier vote will be ratified. They say they’re also planning organizational meetings at churches in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.