By HARRY R. JACKSON JR.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
When the D.C. Council passed a measure last week to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, the council members acted surreptitiously and violated the sacred trust of their office. This decision, in which little attention was paid to the concerns of many D.C. constituents, marked a new low in irresponsible leadership.
In a predominantly black city that has lived through the worst facets of discrimination, a strange brand of reverse bigotry is being perpetrated. Defenders of virtue and protectors of family and age-appropriate education of children are being called "bigots." This is ironic in a city that was built by slave labor and that has a bronze statue on top of the U.S. Capitol called "Freedom." Today the District of Columbia is less democratic, less free and less just because it sanctions same-sex marriage reciprocity.
Those of us who oppose this action have held two rallies over the past few weeks, with more than 100 ministers participating. We have served notice to the D.C. Council that we will seek to overturn its decision by direct popular vote.
The institution of marriage is unique in our society. It is the one institution that binds women and men together to form a family, serving incredibly important societal purposes. There is little doubt that the best environment for raising children is by a loving married mother and father.
Advocates of same-sex marriage purport that their form can peacefully coexist alongside traditional marriage without impact. But same-sex marriage laws will create conflict between people who fervently believe in traditional marriage and the law. Those conflicts would always be resolved in favor of same-sex marriage because there can be no "conscientious objectors" to the law.
What are some of those conflicts?
-- You can teach your children that marriage is between a man and a woman, but your children's D.C. schools will teach them that marriage includes same-sex couples.
-- You can teach your children that there are important spiritual and societal reasons to believe only in traditional marriage. But your children will be told that gay marriage is a civil rights issue, and that those opposing it are akin to the racists of history who opposed interracial marriage and supported slavery.
-- You can be a counselor, physician or attorney who believes in traditional marriage, but if you act in concert with your beliefs, you could lose your professional license and your livelihood.
-- You can provide services to the wedding industry and be sued or fined for refusing to be part of a same-sex wedding.
-- You can be a religious charity providing adoption services, but if you refuse to provide services to a same-sex couple, you have to abandon your beliefs or end your mission.
-- Your church can teach that same-sex marriage is not appropriate, but if you are too active politically on the issue, your tax exemption may be revoked.
These are not hypothetical conflicts. They have already emerged and will become increasingly frequent. Whether or not you are a resident of the District, you need to be concerned about this legislation. Unlike votes in other states, this legislation will set in motion a review by Congress and a potential ballot initiative in the District.
Preserving marriage as we have known it is a battle worth fighting, and we intend to do just that.
The writer is senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville and is the D.C. rally organizer for the Stand 4 Marriage Coalition.