Thursday, June 01, 2006

Marriage Protection Amendment Pandering to the Base? No, Say Some Minority Leaders

One of the most prevalent complaints about the upcoming vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment by the U.S. Senate relates to the charge that it represents a Republican ploy to pander to their base. Among ABC voices, more than a few have offered this explanation already. Nothing could be further from the truth say a number of leading Christian leaders from minority communities.

Bishop Gerald Glen, of the five million member predominately African-American Pentecostal Church of God, expressed that his group was “strongly opposed” to letting courts redefine marriage. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition, believes legalizing homosexual marriage would undermine traditional marriage and family life.

And, in an Agape Press piece today, Bishop Harry Jackson, who chairs the High Impact Leadership Coalition, was quoted from his American Family Radio News and Associated Press interviews. , Bishop Jackson says while he believes strongly that same-sex marriage is unbiblical, the Senate vote on the amendment is more about politics.

"There are those among us who consider this marriage amendment as nothing more than a Republican scam, if you will; a matter of pandering to their base and kind of throwing a bone to conservative Christians," he offers. "I happen to be a registered Democrat, and I want to say that nothing could be further from the truth."

"Same-sex marriage is not directly addressed in any affirming way by the words of Christ," Jackson continues, "and it is simply spoken against in the Old Testament. And so we need to be true to the sacred scriptures that we hold as the guiding light for our faith."

The Bible, he notes, only blesses sex between a husband and wife. "It's a matter of whether you're a biblical conservative or a biblical liberal," the pastor explains. "By and large, biblical conservatives say that although we accept all people, there seems to be [a biblical] admonition against same-sex unions, especially the concept of [homosexual] marriage."

The force of the comments from those in minority communities is strengthened by the fact that they often look at social problems from more than a typically evangelical lens of biblical teachings. Rather than casting the issue in terms of what the Bible enjoins Christians to do, they examine the sociological and secular implications of the policy, framing the debate in terms that even a secularist could support.

Jackson, for example, contends there are other reasons for opposing same-sex unions. "Gay" marriage, he says, would be immoral and unhealthy for society. "We've got, I think, both a biblical lens in which I'm viewing this problem, and a sociological lens," he says. "Something that devalues the institution [of marriage] would take us to an even further level."

One of the frequent charges leveled against evangelicals in the ABC has been their perceived insensitivity to the analogs to the civil rights struggle. Some on the left have suggested that opposing same-sex marriage only repeats the errors made by many conservatives in the 60’s who were not quick to promote civil rights.

But, Jackson takes on this point as well when he says, "Gay rights is not an extension of the civil rights movement simply because there's no choice involved in our blackness." Jackson asserts, "I think there is an amazingly militant group of gays who have made it their point to say, 'We're going to be out; we're going to be visible' -- that's their choice."

Supporters of the amendment, to be considered in the next couple of weeks, express little optimism of it passing. However, the voices of some African-American and Hispanic voices adds nuance to the debate.


[His Barking Dog is about as welcome and authoritative as Martin Luther in the Council of Trent. My howling at the moon does not speak for any organization, entity, or group foreign or domestic, known or unknown, existing or imaginary]

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