Civil rights & gay marriage

Michael Paulson of The Boston Globe wrote an even-handed story earlier this week about black clergy in Boston who want to preserve the historic definition of marriage.

The statement came from the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Boston Ten Point Coalition, and the Cambridge Black Pastors Conference, which Paulson identifies as “the three major associations of Greater Boston’s black clergy.” The statement did not inspire the Massachusetts legislature to approve a constitutional amendment preserving the historic meaning of marriage.

For these religious leaders, the authority of Scripture trumps usual political sympathies:

“As black preachers, we are progressive in our social consciousness, and in our political ideology as an oppressed people we will often be against the status quo, but our first call is to hear the voice of God in our Scriptures, and where an issue clearly contradicts our understanding of Scripture, we have to apply that understanding,” said the Rev. Gregory G. Groover Sr., pastor of Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston.

The group, which includes the contrarian Eugene Rivers, has drawn the wrath of Massachusetts Rep. Byron Rushing, an Episcopalian and a leading gay-marriage advocate in the legislature.

“Martin Luther King [Jr.] is rolling over in his grave at a statement like this,” Rushing told Paulson.

Bishop Gilbert A. Thompson Sr., pastor of New Covenant Christian Church in Mattapan, isn’t buying it:

Today, we look back with scorn at those who twisted the law to make marriage serve a racist agenda, and I believe our descendants will look back the same way at us if we yield to the same kind of pressure a radical sexual agenda is placing on us today. Just as it’s distorting the equation of marriage if you press race into it, it’s also distorting if you subtract gender.”

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  • amarikidd

    I’m guessing you did not catch the Day-To-Day interview with Rivers on NPR yesterday The Church and Gay Marriage in Massachusetts (see to day feb 13). I tried to play it but there’s a skip in the download (Just me?).

    Alex Chadwick asks Rivers ‘what would you do if a church member came up to you and said he had feelings for a same sex’ Rivers replys to the effect of ‘Well Alex, if a young man in my flock came up to me and said he was hot for married woman, i’d say Son, i feel for ya’ but to act on that desire is wrong.’ In the end of the interview Alex sighs heavily as he’s not winning any arguments and says ‘I guess thats why you’re a Pastor and I’m a journalist’. Rivers overspeaks Alex and says something like ‘That’s right Alex’.

  • Beau Monday

    Let me see if I have this straight:

    Black religious leaders, having themselves been victims of prejudice and bigotry, are preaching prejudice and bigotry.

    Does that about sum it up?

  • Joe Perez

    Beau Monday:

    It’s not fair to characterize all Black religious leaders as against gay rights. Some prominent African-Americans aren’t wallowing in hypocrisy. UUA President Bill Sinkford among them, as this report ( testifies

    In his haste to parrot only the views of the religious righties, Douglas LeBlanc’s post unfortunately leaves a slightly distorted impression.

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Joe Perez writes:

    In his haste to parrot only the views of the religious righties, Douglas LeBlanc’s post unfortunately leaves a slightly distorted impression.

    Golly, I was so focused on parroting only the religious righties that I failed to delete this quote from Byron Rushing, which makes clear that some black leaders disagree: `Martin Luther King [Jr.] is rolling over in his grave at a statement like this.`

    And I linked to a full story from The Boston Globe, which I praised, that makes the point entirely clear. I’ll really have to work harder at leaving those distorted impressions.

  • Joe Perez

    Douglas LeBlanc:

    My apologies. I missed the word “advocate” in your post and misinterpreted Rushing’s quote as being another anti-gay-marriage quote. In light of this, I think your post wasn’t out of whack at all.


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  • TM Conroy

    By taking a public stand against gay marriage, these groups undermine themselves by reinforcing the practice of negative stereotyping. At a time when the black community, not to mention society as a whole, is in crisis, such groups do themselves a disservice by hating gays. I live in NY state, and it is not the quiet gay couple who live down the street from me dealing drugs? It’s not the gay couple who sit outside my house in a van getting high and being rowdy. It’s not the gay couple getting into gangs. It’s not the gay couple who drink, drop litter, and use the “N” word at the top of their lungs. As far as I am concerned, we can use a lot more gay couples in my town – people who take care of their property, mind their own business, and not make life difficult for their neighbors.