ATLANTA- The group of African American clergy in Georgia that drafted a declaration to clearly state their support of a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, announced that it would sign the statement in an inter-denominational, inter-racial signing event, to symbolize their unity on the issue of marriage, March 18, 2004. The ceremony, slated for March 22 at the Abundant Life Church in Lithonia, Georgia, is expected to attract thousands, and will be key factor in the state legislature, where the amendment to define marriage as between man and woman is being hotly debated.
"This event gives us a chance to offer our pastoral response to the highly publicized, highly controversial issue of gay marriage in Georgia," said Rev. Donn Thomas, one of the key organizers of the event.
"We will be able to publicly declare our position, to show our unity, and to call on our Representatives in the legislature to represent their community,” said Thomas, one of the original drafters of the declaration.
Currently in Georgia, the debate over gay marriage is highly polarized racially, with most African American representative rejecting it. The African American caucus in the Georgia House was key to defeating the amendment last month. Only one African American voted in favor of the amendment; 30 voted against it.
Therefore, to rectify the misrepresentation of the African American community in the issue, the Rev. Woodrow Walker of Abundant Life Church helped draft the declaration, stating that the vote at the House was not a clear representative of the whole African –American community.
"We are a community that clearly understands the importance of compassion and the ugliness of discrimination," said Rev. Woodrow Walker. "But we are also a community that has been devastated by the lie that children don't need married mothers and fathers. We have a pastoral responsibility, a responsibility as leaders in this city, to not only care for our own congregations, but to also consider what is in the best interest of our city and state. That is why we must stand against efforts that would intentionally create more fatherless and motherless homes."
Rev. Thomas agreed, saying that the issue on homosexuality far surpasses politics.
“The issue of marriage speaks to the foundation of our society. The people in our pews overwhelmingly embrace the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman," said Thomas.
Many of the African American leaders advocating the constitutional amendment, also said they were dismayed by the “civil rights” argument used by homosexual advocates.
“The civil rights movement was about a positive freedom, which is a freedom to rise to the highest levels of our capabilities,” said Clarence James, a Temple University professor and former resident of Atlanta who wrote on a book about the black church and homosexuality. “The homosexual movement is part of the sexual revolution. It is about negative freedom and the freedom from moral restraint."