A coalition of African-American pastors vowed this week that there will be massive civil disobedience if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in a ruling on the matter expected this month.
At a press conference in Memphis, Tennessee, members of the Coalition of African-American Pastors joined Christian ministers at the Church of God in Christ's historic Mason Temple to warn the Obama administration to prepare for massive civil disobedience among pastors and clergy if state bans on gay marriage are deemed unconstitutional.
"If they rule for same-sex marriage, then we're going to do the same thing we did for the civil rights movement," said Rev. Bill Owens, president and founder of CAAP. "We will not obey an unjust law."
"The politicians and courts have tried to take God out of this country," continued Owens. "This country was founded on Godly principles. We will not stand back."
Rev. David Welch, president of the Pastor's Council in Houston, Texas, spoke out at the conference explaining the lengths people of faith might go to resist gay marriage.
"God created marriage between a man and woman and no Supreme Court jurisdiction can define this," said Welch. "We stand clearly saying we will acknowledge God's law no matter what the cost, no matter what the price. If they want to fill jails with pastors across the nation of every color, denomination and every size who will stand for the laws of God and His truths."
Welch also compared Christians resisting gay marriage to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and encouraged pastors to fight for their right to worship freely.
"If it comes down to declining to perform same-sex weddings, that we will be charged with a civil or criminal penalty, then we will accept the penalty," said Welch. "But this isn't just about the wedding ceremony itself. This is a core, fundamental issue of our First Amendment freedom that the court is toying with right now. Either we have the right of freedom of conscience and religion and the freedom to practice it, or we don't."
Opponents of gay marriage around the U.S. are going to different lengths to resist it. Texas Republican lawmakers proposed a bill that would seek to enforce a ban on gay marriage even if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to declare such bans unconstitutional,
While it was co-signed by 87 Republican members of the House, HB 4105 wasn't brought to the floor for debate before the midnight May 15 deadline, which rendered it dead.
Democratic lawmaker and businesses such as Dell, Celanese and Dow Chemical lobbied against the bill.
Lawmakers in the state Senate, however, managed to pass a bill known as the "Pastor Protection Act," which goes into effect Sept. 1, and allows clergy to refuse to conduct marriage ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs.
"Freedom of religion is the most sacred of our rights and our freedom to worship is secured by the Constitution," Abbott said at a June 11 signing ceremony, according to the Texas Tribune. "Religious leaders in the state of Texas must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that religious freedom is beyond the reach of government or coercion by the courts."
On April 28, the Supreme Court heard arguments on an appeal from the Sixth Circuit of Appeals regarding four state-level gay marriage bans.
Many experts have said the Supreme Court will narrowly rule this month that all states must allow same-sex couples to obtain a state marriage license.