The following is an excerpt of a letter that was presented to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, Barbara Lee and the Congressional Black Caucus this week by national pastors and leaders who want to be counted among those who see marriage as an important issue in America today.
… We, the under-signed, are a bi-partisan group of 100 ministers from around the nation. Most of us currently serve the African-American community, but we have begun a national campaign to mobilize the entire Christian community - black, white, and Hispanic.
We are asking you to veto the Religious Freedom and Civil Rights Equality Amendment of 2009. In addition, we solicit your help in protecting the citizen’s right to vote under to the District of Columbia’s Charter. The charter guarantees the people a co-equal opportunity with the city council to create or veto laws.
Currently, federal law defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman. Further, the DOMA bill was passed in the US Congress by a vote of 85-14 in the Senate and a vote of 342-67 in the House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. The DC Charter authorizes a citywide vote on this or any other issue, if petitioned to do so by the people. By furiously doing everything in its power to prevent a citywide vote on the definition of marriage, the City Council ignores what the charter plainly says. This arrogant act is tantamount to illegally ‘amending’ or ‘deleting’ the D.C. Charter's guarantee to the citizens of their right to vote.
… If the recent DC same sex-marriage law is allowed to stand, people around the nation will ask, “Why did Congress allow the city to violate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?” …If the Congress or Senate do not weigh in to protect marriage, there will be political consequences to pay. In a recent city council hearing in DC about this law, Councilman Jack Evans warned DC citizens that “there will consequences” for bringing our concerns to the Hill. He spoke as though he was a dictator or potentate of some sort. His words are indelibly etched on our minds and the DC public hearing records.
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.