Valentine's Day Brings Out Clergy on Opposing Sides of Marriage Debate

NEW YORK – Valentine's Day brought Evangelicals out to the steps of New York’s City Hall to advocate traditional marriage. A newly formed gay marriage alliance also converged on City Hall the same hour.

Evangelical-led City Action Coalition (CAC) held the press conference representing a diverse group of New York area churches and ministries, including City Covenant Coalition, Radio WMCA, The Love Express, Tri-State Voice, Church of God in Christ, CONLICO, Concerts of Prayer, New Jersey Faith Alliance, the African American Clergy, and even elected officials and Jewish and Muslim clergy.

"We stand united and continue to urge the city council, Mayor Bloomberg, all elected officials and judges not to attempt to alter or redefine traditional marriage, which has been one of the main cornerstones of all civilizations for thousands of years," said Michel Faulkner, senior pastor of Central Baptist Church and co-founder of CAC, to a crowd of 40 people.

The city recently elected its first openly gay Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, who has made clear her desire to marry her lesbian partner. Earlier this month, Gov. George Pataki signed a new bill that allows gay couples to make decisions about their partner's remains, marking the first time in New York State law that a homosexual partner has been given priority over a relative.

The Christian coalition fears that more pressure than ever is being put on New York City lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage, and the voice of the Church and those representing traditional values must continue to be heard.

"One of the things Christians have been guilty of in the past on issues like this is thinking that they've won the battle and thinking that that war is over," said Faulkner. "This is going to continue until Christ returns, especially with movies like Brokeback Mountain mainstreaming the gay lifestyle."

Faulker emphasized that the coalition is not condemning gay people, and made a distinction between the person and his or her sin.

"It is very, very important that we are not anti-gay, and that we tell people God loves gay people; He does not love or accept the lifestyle," said Faulkner. "And so we have to continue to share, and we have to be willing to hug and embrace."

Homosexual marriage activists were also in attendance, holding up banners to advocate for equality in marriage. Gary Gilbert, 47, was irate over having to go all the way to Canada to get married.

He said the clergy are not the only ones who are Christians; he and his husband are also Christian and the Bible must be read in the right context.

"St. Paul thought the world was going to come to an end; he was wrong about that. So it's the spirit of love, [rather] than actual specifics," he said. "I mean, when you read a passage in the Bible, you have to read what was the context – who was it written for, [and] what were the assumptions?"

WMCA Christian radio show host Kevin McCullough, however, said a person can't manipulate biblical truths.

"God is either objective and authoritative, or He's someone we can manipulate and put in our pocket," he said. "If God is the latter, then He can become anything we want Him to be; if He's the former, then we're the ones who have to obey Him."

The Coalition urged Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to protect marriage from activist judges.