African-American clergy come together to support gay marriage

Many groups backing gay marriage in Illinois are putting pressure on their representatives, especially in the African-American community.
October 17, 2013 2:53:19 PM PDT
Same-sex marriage may be on the legislative agenda when lawmakers return to Springfield next week for the fall veto session. Many groups backing gay marriage in Illinois are putting pressure on their representatives, especially in the African-American community.

The gay marriage issue is heating up again as lawmakers return to Springfield next week. Well-known African American ministers have used the pulpit and other means to strongly oppose gay marriage in Illinois.

On Thursday, a different group of black ministers came together to urge the house to pass the law.

It's a battle between the ministers, specifically African-American clergy. This group came together today to urge the Illinois House to pass gay marriage, formally known as the SB 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

"Legislating how fast I drive, taxes, where I park is understandable but telling me I cannot marry is simply unfair," said Rev. Dawnn Brumfield, Urban Village Church.

Just shy of the 60 votes needed to pass the law, the House sponsor Rep. Greg Harris decided not to call the bill for a vote last May. Since then, both sides have worked hard trying to sway votes, especially the African- American clergy coalition that includes pastors with big congregations like Rev. James Meeks and Bishop Larry Trotter. They are fighting hard against gay marriage based on biblical teachings.

"It is the way it has always been, we believe bible teaches against same sex relationships speak out against legislation," said Rev. Kenneth Giles, The African-American Clergy Coalition.

But this group of African-American ministers view gay marriage from a different context. They are hoping to sell it with in the African-American community as a freedom and equality issue, not a religious one. Maryland minister Rev. Delman Coates says gay marriage succeeded in his state when it was framed as a public policy issue.

"It is critically important in democracy that we help people to understand it is our call and challenge to live within our faith, not to legislate," said Rev. Delman Coates-Clinton, Maryland minister.

As both sides head to Springfield next week, State Rep. Greg Harris said Thursday the House agendas are not yet set. Whether he has enough votes to call a vote, Harris would only say things are moving in the right direction. If the Marriage Fairness Act eventually passes, Illinois will join 14 other states and the District of Columbia.

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