Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

The following is an excerpt from a letter that will be sent this week to President Obama from leaders in the African-American community. Two events have precipitated the writing of this letter.

1. The President hosted a Stonewall Riot 40th anniversary celebration at the White House, when no such meeting has been afforded to African-American clergy to date.

2. The legal attempt to overthrow the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that has come out of Massachusetts last week.

All too often, both the press and politicians view the African-American community as a monolithic group that will go wherever the cultural winds blow them. This is not true. We want to express our concerns and be heard. The following letter is an attempt to encourage the president to consider our viewpoint on the redefinition of marriage.

“Dear President Obama,

“…Although you have voiced support for marriage as defined as a union between one man and one woman, we are concerned that that your campaign promise to changing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will work at cross purposes with your pro-marriage stance.

“We believe that the central domestic problem we face is the disintegration of marriage. One of the organizations we support called Marriage Savers points out that the marriage crisis is comprised of four elements:

1. A lowering of the marriage rate

• The marriage rate has plunged 50% since 1970

2. An increase in divorce

• Half of all new marriages end in divorce

3. A rise in heterosexual cohabitation

• The number of unmarried couples living together has soared 12-fold since 1960

4. A multiplication of unwed births

• Out-of wedlock births jumped from 5.3% to 39.6% from 1960-2007

“These statistics show the fragile nature of the institution of marriage today. Changing the definition of marriage will have many unintended consequences, which will hurt generations to come. If one redefines marriage, then the family is redefined. If the family is redefined then the nature of parenting must also be redefined.

“We are concerned that an attempt to recognize and adjust to one group’s sense of alienation may actually confuse future generations of children about their sexuality and blur lines of responsibility in our families. The very definitions of motherhood and fatherhood may be unnecessarily challenged in years to come.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.