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May 10, 2006
Column #1,289
Advance for May 13, 2006
Why Black Clergy Oppose Same-Sex Marriage
by Michael J. McManus

In June Congress will vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment which states, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman..."

To gays this seems discriminatory because it would deny "same-sex marriages" recently legalized in Massachusetts. Interestingly, the denominations which have led the battle for the Marriage Amendment are African-American - the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Church of God in Christ. Two years later Catholic Bishops joined the cause.

"It is inaccurate to say gays are discriminated against," argues Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., an African-American whose Hope Christian Church recently hosted a Marriage Summit in support of the amendment. "It is a manipulative ploy to work on the sympathy of the nation.

"I think they are attempting to ride on the coattails of the most successful Civil Rights Movement in American history led by the Rev. Martin Luther King. It is a way to ennoble their struggle. It is not accurate at all to say they are discriminated against.  I believe the gay lifestyle is at some level a choice. People do not know you are gay, unless you tell them. That is unlike being an African-American, which you cannot hide.  Your skin pigment is dark or it is not."

Matt Daniels, founder of the Alliance for Marriage, which leads the lobbying for the amendment, asserts, "Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, but they don't have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society."

However, gays have filed law suits which have reached the Supreme Courts of Washington state and New Jersey that could declare "same-sex marriage" legal in those states.

In an attempt to head off such judicial activism, 19 states have passed amendments to state constitutions to limit marriage to one man and one woman. Others will do so this fall.  Many were passed by ballot referenda by wide margins.  However, even the Nebraska amendment, with a 70 percent vote, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Experts on both sides of the issue believe that if the issue were to come before the current U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex marriage would be legalized.

Why is that a danger to America?

Now that Canada has legalized same-sex marriage, its Justice Department commissioned several studies that call for decriminalizing polygamy, the marriage of one man to two or more women and possibly polyamory, marriage of three or more persons of any gender to one another.

As Stanley Kurtz wrote in "The Weekly Standard," "If everything can be marriage, pretty soon nothing will be marriage. Legalize gay marriage, followed by multi-partner marriage and pretty soon the whole idea of marriage will be meaningless."

Bishop Jackson observes, "The foundation of marriage is being broken. The black community has crossed the threshold into urban family disintegration...Swedish and Dutch attempts to give all of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples has resulted in a disintegration that tragically mirror the black community (in the U.S.).

"Out-of-wedlock births escalated dramatically.  In Sweden they went from 47% of births to 55% in ten years. In the Netherlands unwed births went from 19 percent to 31 percent in only six years.  They did the same thing that it took slavery, poverty and sexual irresponsibility to do in the black community. I can't help but think of the generational effect of fatherlessness. Broken marriage and non-marriage are producing our problems of crime, addiction, promiscuity.

What solutions does he suggest?

"1. Pastors must preach a compelling vision of marriage and a satisfying family life and we must model it.

"2. Christian singles should be encouraged to marry earlier." He noted that many are marrying in their late 20's, "while biologically your body is at a peak from late teens through early 20's. Yet we tell them to do nothing about this.  Their body is screaming at them and they don't think they can pull off this thing called marriage."

Bishop Jackson married Michele when he was 23 and a student at Harvard Business School.  Thirty years later he describes the joy of "building dreams together" and "building history for the longevity of marriage."

He acknowledged that the younger generation has trouble with that message, so he has been more blunt about how blacks can "heal the father wound" of growing up without a father: "Many of you women have to close your legs."

St. Paul put it more delicately to the Corinthians: "Flee sexual immorality."

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