Gay Marriage: The Black Church is Uncomfortable and Wrong
1 year ago
With all the negative rhetoric, black preachers should know better
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of the Loop 21.
Around this same time four years ago, we witnessed history in the making. A black man married to a black woman with two black children, who seemingly came from out of nowhere, was on track toward becoming the first black president. Most Americans were elated. For once in a long time, we saw actual change in the American psyche. Not the kind of change that is wavering. No. Once Barack Obama was elected president, we felt like we had all accomplished something and that America had matured to a “post-racial” society. We thought that discrimination, injustice and pure racism may dissipate after all. These were the feelings we felt, however naïve some of them may have been.
Now, President Obama’s recent remarks in defense of gay marriage have many considering him as more than the first black president, but also the first gay president. A title made notorious by the most recent publication of Newsweek Magazine.
“It is important to me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” said Obama to ABC news anchor Robin Roberts in an interview last week.
Immediately, there was push back from black preachers disappointed in the president’s views. By Sunday, many of us were listening to those same black preachers in church discuss the announcement that apparently captured the national dialogue. And while some preachers support Obama's views, like Rev. Otis Moss III of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, and some do not, like Pastor Jamal Bryant of Baltimore's Empowerment Temple AME Church, it seems the dominant narrative is in opposition of his position.
[ALSO READ: Black Pastor's Open Letter On Gay Marriage]
Obama's stance on gay marriage makes a lot of sense. It's something he spent years thinking about and talking over — consulting his friends and pastors, considering the lives of gay soldiers unable to marry and speaking with his daughters who have friends with same-sex parents. The fact that President Obama “evolved” his views on same-sex marriage, after going on the record for years in support of the view that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, makes complete sense.
However, I am concerned by the black preachers and political and social leaders attacks of Obama for embracing same-sex marriage. I feel like I am in the twilight zone. Although I do not believe the black church should fight against same-sex marriage, I am trying to understand why it feels compelled to. I’ll explain.
At the core of all of the debate and outrage, same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. Just like blacks, whites, children and elderly people, same-sex couples are entitled to the same protection when it comes to freedom and the unwarranted infringement of their rights. As Dr. Michael Eric Dyson stated when he guest hosted The Ed Show last Friday, “Black people do not have a copyright on civil rights insurgence or resistance.” Just as we are allowed to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression, shouldn’t same-sex couples be allowed the same liberty? Dyson also used the term “sexual rednecks” but I won’t go there.
What President Obama is battling is this reoccurring notion of “separate but equal,” something all black people should know a thing or two about. How can you (Obama) say that you support same-sex couples’ ability to pledge their love for each other yet deny them the institutional security of marriage? Is this not comparable to allowing blacks to eat in a restaurant but restricting them from using the front door? Or allowing them to ride on the bus and restricting them from sitting in the front? I understand gay marriage is a touchy subject but this is just another level of the same discrimination that many of our civil rights leaders fought against. If anyone can understand this plight, you would think members of the black church could.