The Washington Post

Same-sex marriage isn't the threat to African American families

President Obama is catching a fair amount of grief from theologically conservative African American pastors for his decision to no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans the recognition of same-sex marriage. "The president has harmed himself on this issue" said the Reverend Anthony Evans, who heads the National Black Church Initiative. "He has openly offended the black church, and he didn't need to do it."

The DOMA law, which Obama and the Justice Department contend is unconstitutional, declares that the nation has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of marriage because it has an interest in children, and that the way to protect marriage is by defining it only as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Same-sex marriage, DOMA argues, weakens the institution of marriage and, thus, poses a threat to responsible procreation and child rearing.

It's still beyond me how gay marriage affects the already married or heterosexuals who want to get married.

I understand even less, if that's possible, the concentration of conservative black pastors on gay marriage when the real and present danger is the decline of marriage among African Americans -- an ominous trend that has nothing to do with the desire of two people of the same sex to marry.

At least there are gays and lesbians who want to get married. Would that the same could be said of African Americans.

The Pew Research Center's November 2010 report on marriage and family contained findings based on a 2010 survey that should be the subject of Sunday morning sermons. Such as:

-in 1960, the black marriage rate was 61 percent. By 2008, only 32 percent of blacks were married.

-72 percent of black women giving birth were unmarried.

-52 percent of black children were being raised in single-parent homes. (Contrast that with 27 percent of Hispanic children and 18 percent of white children.)

-Only 32 percent of black children are being raised in a home with two married parents; 6 percent were living with unmarried partners, and 10 percent with no parents at all.

And these findings do not include the depressing data on the high rate of black teen pregnancies, the large number of black children ordered into foster care because of neglect and abuse, the absence of fathers or the disproportionate number of black men behind bars.

Gay, lesbian and transgender people and their desire to get married have nothing to do with the decline of marriage and family in the African American community.
What ails us comes from within and from societal conditions unrelated to same-sex marriage. If anyone should know that, it's the black preacher.

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column -- sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics -- on that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.

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