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(Memphis) In Midtown, more than a dozen African-American ministers stepped off their pulpits to stand behind a podium and denounce President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage.
The ministers are part of the Coalition of African-American Pastors in Tennessee.
Rev. William Owens is the founder and president of the coalition, “We do want the President of the United States to rescind his position on endorsing same-sex marriages. We stand for marriage between a man and a woman. Some would like to call it a civil right, but no right is a civil right if it’s not square with God.”
The pastors say the same-sex marriage debate is hijacking the Civil Rights Movement.
Owens said, “The homosexual community has taken the Civil Rights Movement and hijacked it stating that it is the same thing. I was in the Civil Rights Movement and I can tell you I did not march one inch, one foot, one yard, one mile for same-sex marriage”
Bishop Felton Smith is on the Board of Bishops with the Church of God In Christ, ”We’re not here as haters and bashers of the gay community. We’re just here to say your contentions are not legitimate.”
Rev. Dwight Montgomery heads the Memphis chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, “It’s not ordinary for a man to be with a man or a woman with a woman. God created animals, they know their place. Men and women should know their place, as well.”
Will Batts is the executive director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
He welcomes President Obama’s decision to announce his support for same-sex marriage, “I’m glad that he (President Obama) came out in support of gay people being married. That’s a big deal.”
Batts said he’s disappointed with the position of some religious leaders, “This is really not about telling other people how to believe or to live their lives. It’s really talking about access to equality, access to all those rights and benefits that people get when they’re married.”
The pastors won’t say if President Obama’s same-sex marriage opinion will be an election year liability for support in the black community and black church, but they say they hope he’ll at least listen to them.
Owens said, “We’re not saying we not going to vote for him or we’re going to vote for him, but we just want our voice to heard, just like the homosexuals.”
Batts said, “I think the people who don’t support President Obama don’t support him for a lot of different reasons. I don’t think this will be the one deciding factor.”
The pastors have launched a signature petition drive in hopes of getting President Obama’s attention.
They’re encouraging people to visit the website.