Black Religious Leaders Call for Protection of Marriage

WASHINGTON – Black religious leaders, Christian teenagers, and conservative lobbyists gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday to support traditional marriage, as the Senate considered a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

“We have been left with no other choice for the defense of marriage than an amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Family Research Council. “We have a very simple message: Americans want common sense written into the Constitution.”

The mostly African-American speakers called for the amendment’s passage, not as a way to attack gay marriage, but as a means to protect traditional families.

“This is not about gay marriage, it is an assault on traditional marriage,” said Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., Chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, which organized the press conference. “Gays are aggressive, gays declared war, gays are attacking traditional marriage, and we’re saying stop it now.”

Shar Parker, President of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, explained that the legalization of gay marriage would accelerate the sexual woes that have already broken down some communities and societies across the nation.

“We’ve already seen in Black America what happens when families are destroyed,” said Parker. “We have seen what happens when we tell young men that they could do whatever they desire in terms of their sexual passions, of when they go into the jails and they go back into these 4,000 housing projects.

“Today AIDS is the number one killer of African American women between 25 and 35, and we are seeing the increase in the HIV/AIDS in the black community,” she said.

According to The Associated Press, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is not likely to receive the 60 votes needed for an up-or-down decision. However, new votes for the measure are expected from freshmen elected after the amendment received its last vote in 2004.

Already 45 of 50 states have acted to define traditional marriage in a way that would ban same-sex marriage – 19 with their own state constitutional amendments and 26 with statutes.

However, supporters of the amendment, including the speakers at the press conference, said a constitutional amendment at the federal level is needed to prevent “activist judges” from overturning pre-existent marriage laws.

“We are here today because marriage is under attack,” said Sen. Wayne Allard, author of the Marriage Protection Amendment. “Since 2004, same-sex marriage advocates have intensified efforts to redefine marriage at the courts. This is about protecting your vote.”

A majority of Americans define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, as does the amendment, according to a new ABC News poll.

According to the Rev. William Owens, Founder of the Coalition of African American Pastors, that figure jumps to 73 percent in the black community.

“Our position is based on Scripture, not political parties or persuasion or opposition,” said Owens. “I call on our black political leaders; I call on our white political leaders; I call on the democrats; I call on the republicans to be a man or a woman and stand up for something because America will refuse to fall for nothing.

“I encourage our senators to have some backbone,” he said.