Black Pastors Speak Out Against Same Sex Unions

( [email protected] ) Feb 11, 2004 03:19 PM EST

BOSTON – Three major organizations of Black pastors in Boston released a joint statement opposing same sex “marriage,” countering the arguments made by pro-gay advocates equating civil rights with gay rights, Feb. 7.

The statement, penned and signed by the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, the Boston Ten Point Coalition and the Cambridge Black Pastors Conference, asserted that marriage can be established only between a man and a woman, and called for the constitutional amendment to protect that covenant.

"We believe our voices are critical to the debate because of who we are and whom we represent," the statement signed by the three black organizations reads. "We are Christians with a faith that was forged from a uniquely American experience. As Black religious leaders we speak from our theological, historical and ethical understanding of the institution of marriage.

"We believe marriage to be a unique covenant established between a man and a woman. Our understanding of marriage is fundamentally rooted in our beliefs. It is a tenet seminal to Christianity, other faith traditions and also secular society. The marriage covenant is both a religious and social contract. It is the primary basis for the establishment of the rules of social engagement and community."

The statement acknowledged "the pain and suffering" of homosexuals "who are in long term relationships" but said that in light of the most recent opinion by the state's high court, the three organizations were supporting a constitutional amendment.

On the same day, a coalition of leaders representing more than 3,000 churches, mosques and synagogues also issued a joint statement calling for the passage of a state constitutional marriage amendment. Signed by leaders representing Catholic, Protestant, evangelical Christian, Islamic and Jewish bodies, the statement criticized the Massachusetts media for focusing on religious groups who support same-sex "marriage”.

"The ongoing reference in the media to leaders or congregations supporting same-sex marriage has created a myth of religious support," the statement reads. "Our signatures speak otherwise."

"It is based on common sense and human reason," it notes. "... The court's re-definition of marriage explicitly divorces the institution of marriage from the procreation and education of children. Despite the experience of all human cultures and the empirical data of sociological studies, the court ignores the fact that the stable, permanent relationship of a husband and wife is the optimal basis for child rearing. The court's decision will harm our children, who are entitled to be able to count on their parents' marriages as the secure foundation of their family lives."

Among the signers were Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary dean Alvin Padilla, Boston College President William Leahy, Vision New England President David M. Midwood and Park Street Church pastor Gordon Hugenberger. It also included signatures from M. Saleem Bajwa and Seraj-ul Haque of the Islamic Council of New England and Rabbi Gershon C. Gewirtz of Young Israel of Brookline.

The two statements were released on the eve of a Feb. 11 constitutional convention in which state legislators will consider a state amendment that would protect the traditional definition of marriage. The vote Feb. 11 figures to be a close one, even as legislators debate the amendment's final language. The Associated Press conducted a telephone survey and found that 70 legislators supported an amendment, 62 opposed it, 12 were undecided, three had no comments and 52 did not respond. The constitutional convention will include all 199 members of the House and Senate meeting together as one body.

The amendment must pass two consecutive legislative sessions -- which in Massachusetts are two years each -- before going to voters, which would be 2006 at the earliest. The court's ruling takes effect in mid-May, meaning that same-sex couples may be receiving marriage licenses long before voters have a say.