- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

ATLANTA (AP) — More than two dozen black pastors added their voices to the critics of same-sex “marriage,” attempting to distance the civil rights struggle from the homosexual-rights movement and defending marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“When the homosexual compares himself to the black community, he doesn’t know what suffering is,” said the Rev. Clarence James, a black-studies professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Mr. Jones and 29 pastors rallied late Monday with their supporters at an Atlanta-area church, where they signed a declaration outlining their beliefs on marriage and religion. The declaration is meant to pressure state representatives to approve a constitutional ban on homosexual “marriages,” which will be considered again by the Georgia House as soon as this week.

The declaration, to be presented to state leaders today or tomorrow, says same-sex “marriage” is not a civil right, and marriage between a man and a woman is important because it is necessary for the upbringing of children.

“To equate a lifestyle choice to racism demeans the work of the entire civil rights movement,” the statement said. “People are free in our nation to pursue relationships as they choose. To redefine marriage, however, to suit the preference of those choosing alternative lifestyles is wrong.”

Same-sex “marriage” is already illegal in Georgia, but supporters of the ban say the constitution needs to be changed to make sure a judge does not direct Georgia to recognize homosexual “marriages” performed in other states.

“It is a threat to who we are and what we stand for,” said Bishop William Shields of Hopewell Baptist Church. “If nothing else gets us out of the pews, this ought to.”

But the Rev. Paul Turner, a homosexual pastor from Atlanta who helped organize a pro-homosexual “marriage” rally last month outside the Georgia Capitol, disagreed.

“How do they figure that it’s not a civil rights issue?” he said.

“This is just a way for those conservative leadership in the black community to say, ‘Look, this isn’t a matter of civil rights because we’re black and we didn’t have a choice in being black.’ And they think gays do, and that’s not true,” Mr. Turner said.

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