Several weeks ago, black pastors from around the nation, under the sponsorship of my organization, CURE, gathered for a press conference at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to express support for President Bush's proposal for a constitutional marriage amendment. The amendment would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The date and place for the event were selected to mark the 41st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The congregations of the pastors who participated in this event have a combined total of well over 40,000 members.
The gay marriage issue has struck a nerve in the black community and may well mark the beginning of a sea change in black voting behavior. Pastors who have voted Democratic all their lives have told me and others that this issue has lead them out of the Democratic Party.
A CBS/NY Times poll on the marriage amendment done last March shows blacks more aligned with Republicans than with Democrats. The poll showed 59 percent overall in favor of the marriage amendment. However, 77 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Democrats, and 67 percent of African Americans were in favor.
These pastors are worked up over this issue because it touches fundamentally the core concerns they have for their communities. They know that the bedrock on which human lives and communities are constructed is made of spiritual and moral fiber. And they know that the profound social problems in their communities stem from the shattered state of that bedrock.
Billy Graham once said: "When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost."
Leaders of the black church are beginning to grasp that the welfare state and the politics of the liberal left damaged character in the black community. They know that the first order of business in these communities is the reconstituting of its spiritual and moral base. In this context, for these pastors, the idea of our society formally abandoning traditional standards of sexual behavioral and traditional concepts of marriage and family is outrageous.
Simultaneous with the Washington press conference, CURE released a policy report titled "The Impact of Gay Marriage on the Black Community." The report shows study after study documenting coincidence of promiscuity, disease, and family breakdown with homosexual behavior. Regardless of whether one chooses to identify homosexual behavior as the chicken or the egg of social and moral breakdown, it without question is coincident with it.