May 23, 2009

More on Same-Sex Marriage Recognition in DC

Washington DC is a very liberal city in regards to the voting patterns of its residents, therefore it was no surprise when the City Council voted 12-1 to recognize other states' legal same-sex marriages.

Not everybody is happy about that, however. From the Washington Examiner:

Ralph Chittams has been turned out of restaurants, denied jobs and called unprintable names because he is black. He says he understands discrimination.

So forgive him if he doesn’t believe that denying a marriage license to a gay couple is morally equivalent to denying fellow black men the right to sit at a lunch counter.

“Marriage is a religious act,” said Chittams, 48, a Baptist minister and longtime resident of the Hillcrest neighborhood. “From the dawn of time, it’s been between a man and a woman.”

Words like that offend Richard Rosendall of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

“Marriage equality benefits everyone,” he said. “The fact is that our opponents have no monopoly on faith or on holy scripture.”

Nowhere else in the U.S. does the debate over gay marriage take on quite the shape that it does in the District of Columbia. The city is one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the country. Its voters chose Barack Obama nearly by a ratio of 95-to-5.

But the outrage that has exploded among black ministers after a 12-1 city council vote to recognize out-of-state gay marriages has highlighted a deep divide. On one side are white gays and lesbians and their backers. On the other side are otherwise liberal African-Americans with a deep conservative streak on social questions.

“There is a feeling that white activists from out of town, that they’re sort of the setting the agenda,” said Sean Bugg, co-publisher of Metro Weekly, a weekly magazine that covers gay and lesbian life in the District. “It’s an arguable point. But I think it’s too early to say, ‘Black D.C. thinks this or black D.C. thinks that.’ ”

Still, Bugg said the vehemence of the opposition — including that of longtime gay rights advocate Marion Barry — ought to be “a wake-up call” for gay rights advocates.

Most gay rights advocates strenuously deny that there’s a racial divide.

“It’s a red herring,” Rosendall said. “Bishop Harry Jackson and his allies like people to believe there is. They seem to be doing their best to stoke one.”

Harry Jackson, the leader of a mega-church in Lanham who is emerging as a national leader in the fight against gay marriage, said he was guilty as charged. “Why do they get to appeal to blacks as if blacks are their property and I can’t go to that same group?”

Jackson asked. Black people have been silent for too long on matters of “righteousness,” Jackson said. Gay marriage offers the perfect opportunity to refocus their political power.

It’s not just the opposition to gay marriage that discomfits gay rights advocates. It’s also the toxic language of the opposition.
“I think one of the big challenges for African-American gay people … is the hostile rhetoric in the pulpit,” said Michael Crawford, a black gay activist based in the District.

Chittams says he regrets some of the vitriol of the debate. “I don’t think it’s a racial thing on a national level. Unfortunately, here, in the District, it has taken on a racial connotation,” he said.

Chittams, a registered Republican who voted for Barack Obama, said he hoped that the debate would get people to rethink government involvement in marriage altogether.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re straight or gay: You should not be able to go down to the courthouse and get a marriage license,” he said. “Anybody who goes down to the courthouse, all you should get is a certificate of a civil union.”

Bishop Jackson, to my knowledge NOT a resident of DC, is good at stirring up hate and playing the race card, even hinting at the "slave card" (blacks are not property, blacks should be free). He has received a lot of attention, had a book published, and gets plenty of face time on Fox News.

Let me know when he gets around to preaching the love of Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. I have a couple of comments for the good Rev. Chittarns.

    1) At one time, discrimination against blacks was a religious act. It was defended and promoted using the scriptures.

    2) I agree that marriage is a religious act, but I really don't think you do completely. If you did, I think you would advocate that the government get out of it altogether. If you truly believe that marriage is a sacrament, then why do you approve of the government defining, regulating, licensing and saying who can or can't get married. Would it make sense for the government to define and regulate baptism or communion? By handing marriage over to the government, the church has already allowed many clearly unscriptural things to leak in such as divorce and believers marrying nonbelievers.

    Unfortunately there is one word "marriage" which means 2 different things. There is religious marriage and civil marriage. All gay people are asking for is civil marriage. They, their families, their children deserve no less.