On Friday, a group of African-American clergy from across the country will assemble at the National Press Club in Washington, DC for a news conference to show support for the marriage equality measure on the ballot in nearby Maryland. A number of well-known ministers will attend, including Rev. Al Sharpton, in what will be the first such gathering of its kind. While polls show the state is poised to become the first in the nation to pass a statewide referendum in favor of marriage equality, several of the state’s influential black pastors have condemned supporters of the legislation, attacked President Obama for his stance, and shockingly urged parishioners to stay home on Election Day.
Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD, who is leading the pro-marriage group, said that his goal with the press conference is to erase "the impression that all African-American pastors are fundamentally opposed to the idea of marriage equality.” The ballot question in Maryland asks voters to affirm or reject the bill passed by the General Assembly in February, which allows but does not require churches and clergy to perform same-sex ceremonies in the state. Rev. Coates joins a chorus of African-American clergy in support of the measure, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, who recently urged voters to “respect people's basic fundamental rights.”
In discussing the dichotomy between support of President Obama in the African American community and opposition to marriage equality, Rev. Irene Monroe slammed the tactics being used in Maryland to dissuade citizens from voting, saying such an outcome “would be tragic” and that “history would not look kindly on their actions.” After all, she said, President Obama is “the president of all the people, not some of the people.”
The “African-American Clergy for Marriage Equality” news conference will be held at 11 am on Friday, September 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. For more information, please click here.
Follow @MD4Equality and #md4me for more updates on the race in Maryland.