Can D.C. Clergy Stop Gay Marriage Vote?

By Michelle Boorstein What kind of clout will D.C.-area clergy have in the coming gay marriage wars in the District? … Continued

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.

  • WmarkW

    Homosexuality is one social issue in which blacks are not more liberal than whites. African-Americans voted about 70% against gay marriage in California. If white liberals make this their cause celebre, it will create a rift on the left.

  • Athena4

    I find it interesting that the clergyman who is leading this charge is a minister in College Park, MARYLAND. Couldn’t they find a pastor in DC to head this up? I’m 100% for gay marriage, and I’m a straight woman who just celebrated my 14th wedding anniversary. I have many GLBT friends, and I wish that they could have the same rights as my husband and I enjoy. When the Maryland legislature votes on it, I’ll probably be right out there celebrating alongside of my gay friends.

  • DCCharles

    Ms. Boorstein,Do you know the names of any clergy who are pro-gay marriage? Is there a way to encourge them to band together?

  • DCCharles

    Wmarkw posted a statistic that 70% of African-Americans voted against gay marriage in California. I thought I read that the figure had been adjusted down after a more accurate poll. Does anyone at the post know about this?

  • rcvinson64

    The black community is against any kind of change. The black church was not at the forefront of the civil rights movement. They preached finding equality in heaven. As the black community drowns in illegitimate births and AIDS related illness, the preachers refuse to confront the problem. Their gay choirs and ministers of music serve the very organizations that are killing them. Stable relationships will reduce HIV/AIDS. Denying the existence and acceptance of gays will not solve the problem. Preachers heal thy selves!

  • katavo

    I am against christian marriages.More than half of them end up in divorce, usually because one of the spouses brings in an STD that wasn’t mentioned on the pre-nup.The highest incidence of wife-beating, adultery, child-abuse, misogyny and psychological terror takes place in christian marriages.Why should we let these people marry?

  • medogsbstfrnd

    Actually it is progress when bigots reveal themselves. Let these black clergy rev up [pun] their web sites and publish their letters so everyone can see which churches and pastors traffic in hatred. Then two things can and should happen: first, every closeted gay person in those congregations should stand up and leave and take their money and talent with them and secondly, everyone who opposes religious hatred and embraces civil rights should leave those churches. So tell us who you are, haters!

  • newagent99

    “No, African Americans did not vote for Prop 8 any more than other California citizens. It was found that they were split down the middle like the rest of the state”False.While whites and hispanics approved of gay marraige in California the majority of God Forbid that any other group gets Civil rights too.

  • MarknDC20003

    This is the priority for pastors? Did I miss the article where there are no more homeless in DC? Everyone in DC now has plenty to eat? The worst problem that these men of God need to focus their attenon on is the fact that people love each other and want to get married? How will history judge that?

  • critter69

    rcvinson64,So if the REVEREND Martin Luther King, Jr. was not involved in a ‘black church’, why was he called REVEREND?So if the REVEREND Ralph David Abernathy was not involved in a ‘black church’, why was he called REVEREND?So if the REVEREND Joseph Echols Lowery was not involved in a ‘black church’, why was he called REVEREND?Shall we continue?REVEREND Bernard Lee?Ever hear of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference? If it was not religious, why is the word ‘Christian’ in the organization’s title?Your opinions about the GLBT community are welcome, but STOP spreading fiction about the ‘black church’.

  • onesugar1

    Why would a Gay Person go to a church that talk against Gay Marriage and Gay People?Wake up, take pride in yourself, and be proud of whom you are. Don’t sit their in those church’s that talk and preach this,In the End only God can judge you, Period.

  • washingtonpost23

    This is pitifully sad. Two social communities at odds that share so much in common — an epic struggle against legal and social oppression, and real people who are both black and gay. Yet it’s the self-proclaimed heart of the far larger group that wants to continue to deny equality to the smaller one? Perhaps Pharisee Harry Jackson should concentrate on his own house and stop trying to wrap his political aspirations in the pages of his Bible. Fact: Marriage is not even on the agenda of most African-Americans today. So, Jackson, if he’s so interested in saving someone soul, should start with the broken homes, addictions, health issues, and everyday woes of the individuals who walk through his door each week. He’s taking their money: Might as well give something back other than this non-helpful wagging and pointing of a judgmental finger at everyone except his own darn self.

  • paris1969

    Where were these pastors when the U.S. directed 500 bombs on Baghdad in one night!

  • luv2bikva

    We need more folks like Athena4 and fewer like the self-proclaimed “savoirs of our souls”.I truly wish that we separate civil marriage from religious marriage once and for all. Recognition of a civil union between two people affords CIVIL rights and CIVIL privileges to the couple. Religious confirmation of that union affords the couple rights and privileges within their selected faith and religious institution. Narry the twain shall meet. THIS is the true separation of church and state.

  • forgetthis

    I think they have also set up a website for those against same-sex marriage in the District. I heard the announcement on 104.1, a Christian radio channel. I can see that I would be in the minority after reading other comments, but… I support this movement. I have a gay friend going on 15 years, too. He knows how I feel about it and is aware of my commitment to my faith, but we’re still friends. Sometimes he wants to excoriate me, but he gets over it and I still have my beliefs.

  • Dieterman

    Homophobic blacks seem to lack the slightest inkling of how absurd they appear to fair minded whites; they’re own communities are drowning in social dysfunction but they presume to tell others how to live. Homophobia has always been a cheap and easy way to garner a modicum respect on the part of people wanting in any real accomplishments but that’s gradually changing – past time for African Americans to get the message

  • dwooddell1

    Michelle Boorstein — I would also like to know which pastors and rabbis support the proposed legislation in DC to make gay marriage legal. The coalition against it has been report. please report to us those who are in favor of it.

  • Freestinker

    “I have a gay friend going on 15 years, too. He knows how I feel about it and is aware of my commitment to my faith, but we’re still friends. Sometimes he wants to excoriate me, but he gets over it and I still have my beliefs.”————————–ForgetThis,So your faith instructs you to willfully discriminate against your friend just because he is gay? Some friend you are. You want the government to impose (by law) your religious opinion on your friend knowing that he does not share your opinion? Some friend you are. If your faith opposes same-sex unions that’s fine, don’t marry someone of the same sex and don’t go to a church that marries same-sex couples but please don’t ask the law to impose such a harsh and blatantly unfair inequality on your friend or anyone else just because of your personal religious opinion.

  • turingcub

    Remember that this is the same DC-church-going community* who tried to paint their wish to double-park on Sundays as religious rights. Special rights, maybe.But this is far bigger of an issue. What idiot rhetoric can we expect from such minds this time? No one needs any of their hate speech.*Commenters: Please don’t slap the homophobia label on every last African-American. How ridiculous is that? Do you think there isn’t a single black lesbian, or a normal middle class black straight family who’s cool with the gays? C’mon.

  • Rich393

    Sounds to me like Jackson is trying to find another way to fund his church and bring in new “worshipers.” With the economy down, it’s obvious his collection plates are not as full as they once were.

  • greenmansf

    No, African Americans did not vote for Prop 8 any more than other California citizens. It was found that they were split down the middle like the rest of the state. Stop with all that racial nonsense already. Not all black churches oppose marriage equity just as not all other churches oppose marriage equity. Also, just because someone belongs to one of these bigoted churches doesn’t mean they agree with the bigots running them on everything. It is sad that these bigots hide wrap their hatred for their fellow human beings up in their version of Christianity. We will know Christians by their love, and these bigots aren’t showing much love are they?

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