Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Last Friday, two historic events occurred. A signing ceremony for DC’s same-sex marriage law and a blizzard that blanketed the Northeast and left everyone in the capital physically isolated except for the almost-too-frequent weather updates on TV and Radio. Ironically, the two events bore a strange similarity.

Their similarity was the level of local media coverage along with the real sense of isolation that most citizens felt. We either trust in both these situations that “big brother” is looking out for us or we become concerned and questioning.

Concerning the snowstorm, my one-year-old, 4-wheel drive proved to be a great investment. I was at the mercy of no one. Owning a vehicle like this left me feeling in control and safe despite the 15 plus inches that fell around my apartment. Concerning the city council decision, thousands of people like myself felt that they were simply at the mercy of the city government. Although I had no immediate vehicle to ride like the one I referenced concerning the snowstorm, the feeling of helplessness was only temporary. I reminded myself that even though DC sometimes runs like a banana republic or third world jurisdiction, the democratic process has built in checks and balances available for the people.

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After the signing ceremony, several television stations asked me the obvious questions: How did you feel? What are your next steps? The first question was easy to answer. I felt that the people of the District had been disenfranchised and that the biggest real losers in this political drama could possibly be the children of the next generation. I was not upset or angry, but I was definitely disappointed in the leadership of the city. Intellectually, I was not surprised. Emotionally, I was appalled at the cynical staging of the signing. It was more like a PR stunt. Holding the signing in a church when the council, with the exception of Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander, had ignored the voices of both prominent African-American churches and the powerful Roman Catholic Archdiocese seemed disingenuous at best.

During his campaign the mayor visited the Missionary Baptist Conference of the DC and Vicinity, where he told them that he did not have a pastor or attend church on any regular basis. So why did this mayor feel compelled to grace the doors of a church? Was it just political grandstanding? Most people think so. They feel that this move had been scripted by gay marriage activists who still are not sure whether the measure will be overturned by Congress or a referendum.

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.