Faith and Politics
The corridors of the Maryland State House became a crossroads of faith and politics today as a coalition of ministers urge lawmakers to block a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state.
"To put up the civil rights of gay and lesbians couples to a popular vote would set a bad precedent in the state of Maryland," said the Rev. Anthony McCarthy of Unity Fellowship in Baltimore, who was among nearly 50 religious leaders who came to Annapolis in support of such marriages.
While many ministers of various faiths have voiced concern about same-sex marriage, the members of "Equality Maryland," came to Annapolis armed with scriptures, talking points and blessings for such unions from 240 church leaders that represented 11 different denominations.
"This is a question of justice," said Rabbi Elisa Sachs Kohen of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. "It is really not a religious question at this level. Our United States government doesn't have a right to deny anyone the protection of law.
House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel) told reporters that the House will hold hearings on the issue next Tuesday, following a judge's ruling last week that the state law banning same-sex marriage would not withstand a constitutional challenge. The order is stayed, pending a review by the state's appeals courts.
Many lawmakers and ministers want to amend the state's constitution to ensure that marriage remains the union of a man and a woman. "We strongly disagree with the judge's ruling," said the Rev. Willie Hunt, president of the Equity Coaltion and the Ministers Alliance of Charles County. "What the bible says is the absolute truth. That life style is an abomination in the eyesight of God. The judges can say whatever they want to, but the bottom line is: who is going to make God change his mind?"
Hamil R. Harris
Rev. John Crestwell, pastor of Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Camp Springs, sees the matter differently, as one of civil rights.
"When it comes to civil rights, we understand that black folks need to get what is owed to them down through history. But when it comes to gays, lesbians and transgendered community we don't want to say a word," Crestwell said.
"This is a civil rights issue," McCarthy added, "this is a legal issue and we have a strong tradition in black community of standing on the side of people's rights."
"Dr. King wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail asking clergy why were they silent on the issue of justice," McCarthy said. "We can't be silent when it comes to denying people basic civil rights."
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