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Armageddon And A Wedding, Too

Proponents of the District's move to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in four states that now sanction it were thrilled last week when a planned anti-gay marriage demonstration in front of the D.C. Council's offices didn't come off.

But organizers of that rally say that was just a scheduling glitch and the real thing is happening Tuesday at 10 a.m. on Freedom Plaza. The rally, according to lead organizer Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Bowie, "will launch the Armageddon of the marriage battle in this country."

Jackson predicts that about 1,000 church members and 100 pastors will show up to argue that the apparently unanimous support among D.C. Council members for recognizing same-sex marriage is an affront to Washingtonians and especially to blacks.

"There's a sense that the latte-drinking crowd is doing an end run around the regular people," Jackson told me. "It's a race and a class struggle on this. If 51 percent of the people in D.C. are African-American and you have a unanimous vote by the city council on this, somebody's not listening to the people."

Jackson says that although his church is located in Maryland, he lives in the District and expects that a large portion of those at the rally will be D.C. residents. But he says he's not the least bit reluctant to recruit out-of-town supporters to put pressure on the city's politicians. He tells me that the Alexandria-based political consulting firm of Shirley and Bannister, a longtime player in conservative Republican national and local campaigns, is handling the planning and execution of the effort to defeat D.C. gay marriage initiatives, both at the council level and--should the city pass this and a measure legalizing same-sex bonds here in the District--in Congress. Jackson won't say who's paying the consulting firm or who's bankrolling his own effort to build a coalition of pastors against the D.C. bill.

Jackson is a fiery preacher with strong ties to white evangelical organizations. A frequent speaker on behalf of conservative social causes, Jackson says the D.C. Council members who believe that both whites and blacks see gay marriage as a civil rights issue are wrong: The real division, the minister believes, is between those who take their faith seriously and those who are deeply misguided.

"The divide has to do with the intensity of one's faith commitment," he says. "Those who are less informed scripturally are floating down the same direction as many in the culture."

Jackson says it's the media's fault that the anti-gay marriage message is seen in some quarters as antithetical to civil rights. "The black ministers are irate that they are being shut out," he says. "They feel like nobody's listening to them." Washingtonpost.com ran a commentary by Jackson on the marriage issue last week.

Will a crowd show up to rally against gay marriage in downtown Washington? And if it does, how much of the crowd will be actual D.C. voters? Or does that even matter, as any move by the District on this issue is indeed, as Jackson warns, certain to morph into a national debate?

Council member David Catania, the driving force on the council behind the marriage initiatives, argues that it's high time the city move ahead to do what its citizens want, even if that means eventually being stomped on by the lords on the Hill. But even some gay marriage advocates have long warned against an aggressive approach in the city for fear that a congressional backlash against the District could hurt same-sex marriage's chances in other states and localities around the country.

That argument seems all too cautious. If the District's ultimate goal is to have the same kind of political independence that other cities and states take for granted, it behooves the city to act as if it enjoyed those same rights--and then let the rest of the nation watch as our rights are trampled upon. What better way to raise awareness of the plight of half a million disenfranchised Americans.

By Marc Fisher |  April 27, 2009; 8:24 AM ET  | Category:  Gay marriage , Politics , The District
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Comments

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I still don't see what one person's beliefs have to do with someone else's freedoms, rights, or who they love. This is like that Miss America contestant saying that she was raised one way, so that means the rights of a certain group of people should be voided. That's like someone saying they were raised to believe a certain ethnicity were inferior to justify their disenfranchisement. I think it's great the DC is flexing its muscle in a way that's not a huge waste of money. Maybe DC gets that one couple's marriage doesn't affect another person's PERSONAL beliefs? Way to go DC!

Posted by: breetaiya | April 27, 2009 9:30 AM

What people need to take from this sort of issue is that if you don't agree with the "beliefs" of the person you voted into office....if they aren't governing in a manner that reflects your beliefs.....Vote them out! You don't have to vote for David Catania just because he is a Democrat! Use your heads and vote based on that, not on what one party or the other tells you you must "believe".

Posted by: rudy011 | April 27, 2009 9:42 AM

In Cali it wasn't white Mormons and other right wing whites that defeated gay marriage but the overhelming turnout by African Americans and Hispanics to vote for Obama that sent gay marriage down to defeat. As a Catholic I have no problems with same sex marriage. Live and let live. Straight marriage is enough trouble and sorry Jerry and Pat gay marriage has nothing to do with it.

Now gay marriage will make divorce lawyers richer since same sex couples are typically more affluent and have more assets than straights.

Really its all about making lawyers richer not your right to marry straight or gay!

The world isn't going to end because Ann and Mary or Jack and Fred got married legally and your child isn't going to become gay because he saw a gay couple.

Posted by: sheepherder | April 27, 2009 10:00 AM

Uh, Rudy, Catania is now an independent, and was formerly a Republican until he left the party when the GOP proposed a constitutional amendment on marriage.

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | April 27, 2009 10:02 AM

Umm.... there's already a national debate, Rev Jackson. As for being scripturally ignorant, Rev Jackson may be the epitome himself, quick to toe the line of snatching the Hebrew word YADDAH from the story of Sodom and interpreting it sexually in contract to the other 942 times it is used. Learn Hebrew and Greek and be enlightened.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | April 27, 2009 11:59 AM

The 14th Ammendment:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

To arguent that gays cannot get married by the state means that the state denies the equal protection of the marriage laws, and its benefits, to gay people. Its as simple as that.

What Bishop Harry Jackson is arguing is that the morality of his interpretation of the bible, within his religion, trumps the US Consitution and the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. Sorry Bishop, but if you intend to deny people rights that are protected under the Constitution, you need to amend the Constitution.

It is a rights issue since laws are being applied unequally, and your argument that gays should not be married based on biblical teaching is akin to those who promoted slavery based on biblical teaching or those applied laws unequally to blacks in the past. You either provide equal protection under the law or you do not. You want the marriage law to discriminate against gays, so it is a civil rights issue.

Posted by: bevjims1 | April 27, 2009 12:22 PM

So dumbfounding that african-americans, who were properly and justly made societal equals through the Civil Rights Movement, are in the forefront of denying gays the right to marry. To universally quantify all african-americans as being against gay marriage is absurd. Sad times indeed.

Posted by: m991 | April 27, 2009 12:47 PM

"It's a race and a class struggle on this. If 51 percent of the people in D.C. are African-American and you have a unanimous vote by the city council on this, somebody's not listening to the people."

Because there's no such thing as Black, gay people, right? Typical.

Posted by: cmcc | April 27, 2009 1:47 PM

Marc Fisher wrote, "If the District's ultimate goal is to have the same kind of political independence that other cities and states take for granted, it behooves the city to act as if it enjoyed those same rights--and then let the rest of the nation watch as our rights are trampled
upon. What better way to raise awareness of the plight of half a million
disenfranchised Americans."

This is an awfully naive viewpoint that we have heard before. It suggests that Marc is unaware of the history of congressional actions blocking D.C. self-determination. Contrary to Marc's vision of Americans across the country being outraged at the sight of D.C. being stepped on by Congress, few in the past have noticed or cared about their members of Congress doing this to us. It isn't as if a nationwide TV audience will have their programming interrupted by live shots of D.C. residents being beaten by police truncheons. There is a case to be made for going ahead with a full marriage equality bill, but the notion that people across the country would be roused with indignation at the injustice against D.C. is not it.

Posted by: 17thStRick | April 27, 2009 4:37 PM

Perhaps the Reverend should review history as well as his scripture. Marriage was not a sacrament in the church until after the fall of Rome. In place of a civil government, the church became the quasi-government and took upon itself the recording and performance of marriage.

The church does not marry -- if the Reverend goes back into Hebrew scripture and practices, he'll find that the marriage occurs between two individuals. In the Hebrew, the Talit is then wrapped around the man and woman by the Rabbi as a sign that the vows taken are recognized by the collective body and blessed by Yahweh.

The marriage in the Christian church tradition again took vows between two individuals and then applied a blessing (or sometimes during the Mass) which gave recognition that the civil marriage was recognized as sacramental by the Christian body. It is why in the Roman Catholic Church today, the civil marriage and marriage in other denominations is recognized as a marriage but can be anulled because it lacked the Sacramental portion.

Marriage also takes place civilly today without regard to teh Sacrament or religious -- by Justices of the Peace, Mayors, and others. People can choose to have the marriage blessed...maybe this should be the model carrying forward for it would recognize that the marriage is largely a civil function involving vows which are recognized by society with various benefits and then blessed by whatever religion.

The Reverend might also check -- Jesus never condemned homosexuality -- but he did divorce and in a rather strong way. Perhaps he should spend his energy ending divorce -- good luck!

Posted by: execdir | April 27, 2009 9:12 PM

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