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September 16, 2009
Column #1,464
Bishop Jackson: Marriage Warrior 
By Mike McManus

"What we need you to do is pray, practice your faith and participate in the political process. Without doing all three, we fall short of being salt and light in the culture," asserted Bishop Harry Jackson who is leading the fight to defeat same-sex marriage in Washington DC.

"If we pray inside the church, and don't go outside, the darkness will rule."

His goal is to hold a referendum on whether to legalize gay marriage.  However, the Washington City Council's Chairman retorted, "I think we are perfectly capable of making an informed decision on this issue. That's what the people elect us to do."

Both Bishop Jackson and the City Council know full well that if the people have a voice on the issue, the legislators will be defeated.   Every referendum, such as California's Proposition 8 supports traditional marriage.

African Americans voted 70% for Prop 8, because they believe in traditional marriage even if they don't practice it well.

Bishop Jackson came to public attention in 2004 when as a black "registered Democrat," he supported Bush's re-election. He leads a national group of conservative African American clergy called the High Impact Leadership Coalition and is Pastor of Hope Christian Church in a Washington suburb. In 2008 he traveled to California and Florida to oppose same sex marriage which was on the ballot.

He stoutly resents homosexuals' claim that they are fighting for "civil rights"  and says that if anyone knows what civil rights are, it was his father who "saw lifeless bodies hanging from lynching trees" as a teenager and was threatened at gunpoint by a state trooper for participating in voter registration efforts in the South.

By contrast, in Washington, he says, "Gay activists enjoy better education, better jobs, better housing, greater access to the system and now legislative power.  Something is wrong when the privileged feign that they are the persecuted, when the powerful posture themselves as victims."

Of course, his opponents like to label those "opposed to equality for gay Americans" as un-American, something unacceptable, akin to racism.

Jackson insists he is not anti-gay. "We are not against gays, but we are for marriage.  Therefore we stand against gay marriage because it corrupts and distorts an institution that is at risk. Seven or eight of ten black babies are born to mothers who are not married. In the black community 40 percent of women will never marry.  The institution of marriage is almost non-existent.

"Where the black community is today is where the rest of the culture will be in a few years."
How right he is!  When Pat Moynihan wrote his 1960's report on "The Black Family," he was concerned that a quarter of black babies were being born out of wedlock. Today, 30% of white births are to unwed parents.

On September 1, Jackson's organization,, filed an initiative for the 2010 ballot that marriage should be limited to unions between a man and a woman.  The Board of Elections scheduled a hearing October 26.  The Board, appointed by the same City Council that recently voted to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, is likely to vote no.

However, Jackson promptly filed a court case to overturn the Board's decision.  While the court rejected his appeal, it did say the appropriate venue was a full-fledged referendum on the issue.  Therefore, he is hopeful for a positive outcome.

If the Board or a court decision allows the initiative to go forward, it would require 20,000 signatures.  That's no problem since 250 black churches and the Washington Catholic Archdiocese are in his coalition.  In addition, 50 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners representing 100,000 people, support the referendum. 

The situation is similar to one in Maine where Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage.  However, ten days before the law was to take effect, Maine election officials announced that opponents had gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.

To bolster his position, Bishop Jackson and his wife rented an apartment in Washington and moved in.  Critics called him a "carpetbagger" and published his new home address which has sparked so many threats against his life that the police are giving him significant protection. (Disclosure: Bishop Jackson is a member of my Marriage Savers board.)

Why is his battle in the nation's capital so important?

Jackson argues, "The whole culture is devaluing marriage. The redefinition of marriage is likely to accelerate the destruction of marriage. The divorce rate, out-of-wedlock birth rate and the rise of singlehood will get worse. European experience indicates that if we have 10 years of same sex marriage, it will accelerate the movement out of marriage."

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