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Faith leaders on both sides of Maryland’s same-sex marriage legislation take stock

Rev. Delman Coates is pastor of the Mount Ennon Baptist Church and leading proponent of the Marriage Equality Bill. (Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

For months, the Rev. Delman Coates, 39, pastor of the Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, led the coalition of religious leaders in support of the Marriage Equality Bill in Maryland. Meanwhile, the Rev. Derrick McCoy, associate pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, led the effort to overturn the law through the Maryland Marriage Alliance. After Maryland’s same-sex marriage law was approved by voters on Tuesday, staff writer Hamil R. Harris interviewed both men. Below are excerpts.

Rev. Coates

Why do you think the referendum passed?

Marylanders passed Question 6 because they did not want to be on the side of legalized discrimination. It was the perfect bill to provide civil protections for gay and lesbian couples and protect religious institutions that don’t perform same sex marriage.

What was the personal cost of being part of this effort?

I don’t want to make this about me — it is about the children and families that will be protected now.

What will you do now?

This is the best year in the history of our church. More than 1,000 people have joined our church in the first 10 months. We now have more than 8,000 members. I am going to try to focus on reentry for ex-offenders in the state of Maryland. I am going to try to work with state legislators, where ex-offenders don’t have to check the box when they fill out job applications, so they can get an opportunity for interviews.

Rev. McCoy:

Why do you think your effort failed?

I think the targeted ads toward the African American community helped [supporters of the law] to get just enough black support to win. Although people do not agree with same-sex marriage, they were deluged with ads about equality, which does not truthfully represent redefining marriage.

What personal toll did this effort take on you?

It was a great opportunity to serve thousands of people around the state, help them get involved and engaged in the democratic process and make a difference in the culture. I also had an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to my own children what it means to stand up for what you believe. God has always believed in us, and I stood up because I believe in him! No toll, personally, only privilege.

What will you do now?

I will continue working in areas to make a difference in our communities and culture.


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