For the last several weeks, I have been discussing the current battle over the definition of marriage with friends and parishioners. I have been amazed by a new collaboration between former political rivals in all of our urban, minority communities. The largely white religious right is literally becoming a melting pot of diversity as far as this marriage issue is concerned. Huge numbers of blacks and Hispanics of faith are starting to feel that there is a “not so subtle” media attack on the nation’s most fundamental institutions. They realize that many movies and TV sitcoms have gone out of their way to express support of “so called” gay rights.
They marveled at the number of celebrities that have jumped on the band wagon for same-sex marriage. Two weeks ago “Prop 8: the play” produced by Rob Reiner trotted out Hollywood’s finest - including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, along a several openly gay actors and actresses. The gay entertainers read selected testimonies of traditional marriage which have never been released to the public. The point of the play was simply to ridicule traditional marriage supporters and “expose the bigotry” of the traditional point of view.
All of this media attention has been coordinated and timed with legislative battles in New York, Maryland, and Washington State. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is that the Supreme Court will likely rule on the constitutionality of referendums or votes on maintaining the definition of marriage. Even the though the Supreme Court should be above politics, the court will likely attempt to gauge the aggregate public opinion about same-sex marriage. In Maryland, the home of several of my lead churches, black clergy voices were instrumental in blocking the same sex marriage initiative last year, in 2011. So much so that Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual (LGBT) activists lobbying in Maryland specifically targeted blacks with a celebrity-studded marketing blitz. The opposition campaign featured videos of black actors such as Michael Kenneth Williams (of television’s “The Wire,” set in Maryland) and Baltimore native Mo’nique winking at the camera and extolling the virtues of the gay community. These PR efforts were synchronized with the strong armed tactics of Governor Martin O’Malley (D).
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.