Monday, May 17, 2004

More than 50 black pastors yesterday decried efforts to compare the battle over same-sex “marriage” to the civil rights struggle of blacks, and called on the Congressional Black Caucus and legislators to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

“You insult African-Americans when you say that this is a civil rights issue,” Bishop Paul Morton, the leader of a Baptist church in New Orleans, said at a Washington meeting organized by the Traditional Values Coalition, a group that promotes Christian values in public policy.

“I can’t change the color of my skin, but you can change your lifestyle,” he said.

“This is not a civil rights issue,” said the Rev. Talbert Swan of Massachusetts. “It is a moral issue.”

It is no coincidence, Mr. Swan said, that the Massachusetts high court picked yesterday, the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that demanded racial integration of schools, as the day when same-sex “marriages” would be legalized.

According to a poll released shortly after the Massachusetts court ruling, these pastors are not alone. Eighty percent of Americans with high religious commitment oppose gay “marriage.”

The poll, released Nov. 18 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also showed that 62 percent of Americans say same-sex “marriage” goes against their religious beliefs and that 59 percent say it should be illegal. The poll of 1,515 adults was conducted Oct. 15-19, 2003.

“It’s interesting to note that all of the major religions of the world, whether Christianity, Islam or Judaism, are in opposition to homosexuality, same-sex marriage or unions,” said Bishop LeRoy Bailey, pastor of an 8,000-member church in Connecticut.

According to a May 2003 Gallup Poll, however, 88 percent of Americans believe homosexuals should have equal rights in other areas, such as job opportunities, showing that same-sex “marriage” is an exception to general attitudes on homosexuality.

“It is not hating homosexuals,” said one local pastor, Lanier Twyman, of St. Stephen’s Baptist Church in Temple Hills. “We love homosexuals. It is the lifestyle that is totally against the principles of God that we hate.”

Mr. Morton is concerned about the effect legalizing same-sex “marriage” would have on him and other pastors.

“If this goes through, we will be required probably one day through lawsuits, ‘Either you marry same-sex people or you suffer the consequences.’ And I’m here to tell you: My name is Paul, but I don’t want to go to jail like [the apostle] Paul, so I’m speaking up now.”

The Traditional Values Coalition has been building its network of 43,000 churches since 1980.

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