By Associated Press
Published May 18th, 2012 4:08 am Comments
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A group of black pastors gathered in Memphis on Thursday to denounce President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage and call on him to change his views.
Some members of the black clergy, including the 13 Tennessee pastors who met Thursday, have taken offense at comparisons between homosexual rights and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The Rev. William Owens, founder and president of the Memphis-based Coalition of African-American Pastors, said he’s offended by the comparison.
“I didn’t march for same-sex marriage, not one inch, one yard, or one mile,” he said. “Homosexuals have a choice, black people didn’t.”
Obama publicly announced his support of same-sex marriage earlier this month during an interview at the White House.
The coalition members said they have started a petition to urge Obama to change his views on homosexual marriage.
“The hijacking of the civil rights movement by homosexuals, bisexuals and gender-confused people must and will stop,” the group said in a press release. “There is no legitimate comparison between skin color and sexual behavior.”
A member of the Board of Bishops for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), Bishop Felton Morris condemned the comparison between the two movements.
“You cannot adjunct yourself and connect to the Civil Rights Movement,” he said.
The coalition’s website says the group was formed to promote religion in the public sector and to denounce abortion and same-sex marriage. The website says the coalition is not aligned with any political party. In 2008, Owens spoke favorably about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, then a candidate for president, and his positions against abortion and gay marriage.
The members of the coalition said they have not yet decided whether they will vote for Obama in November. Owens said that after he surveyed 100 participants, 12 said they would not support the president in the coming election if he does not change his views on same-sex marriage.
Bishop David Allen Hall said politics didn’t drive the group’s decision to speak out against the president and his support of the homosexual community.
“This is not a political issue,” he said. “This is a morality issue.”
Elder Robert Morris said the president’s decision would not have been a popular one with past civil rights leaders, and he asserted that Martin Luther King Jr. would not have supported it.
“I feel like he has let us down,” he said.