He stumbled over the explosive words as if his solemn, quiet tone could dampen their impact.

He paused and struggled with them right until they spilled, with a hesitant life of their own, from the lips of the first black President:

“For me, it is important, for me personally, to go ahead and affirm, that I feel… same sex couples should be able to get married.”

When President Barack Obama stopped by ABC’s Good Morning America to give the world an update on his marriage equality “evolution,” that one sentence exposed the deep chasm between black evangelicals and true liberalism, forever changing the course of political history.

In the frantic days since “The Announcement,” black civil rights leaders such Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jessie Jackson, Rev. Joseph Lowery, and Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, Julian Bond, have bravely broken with a socially conservative Black America that has dipped itself in pious self-righteousness when speaking out on the “evil,” “unholy,” and “ungodly” nature of homosexuality. Though many black evangelicals have voiced support for the decision, their voices are, unfortunately, being drowned out by a chorus of bigotry that typically lies dormant.

It is times like these that one realizes that for some in the so-called Black Church — which overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008 when he was rocking back and forth in church pews across America — “change we can believe in” translates into hypocritically judging those “sins they don’t partake in” when the change doesn’t align with Christian ideology.

The question on the table is not whether evangelicals believe that it is subjectively “right” for gay and lesbians to marry, but if they can stop moralizing the civil rights of other people in this country based on their personal religious beliefs. No church is being asked to perform marriages between people of the same sex, but to simply re-evaluate the arrogant stances that churches should dictate policy.

But apparently the answer is still no.

I don’t remember one Bible lesson where Jesus said that two people can’t go to City Hall, get married, and have that marriage recognized legally, even if he didn’t agree. Should the Christian church, one church that cannot possibly represent all people, dictate the laws of the United States? What if, hypothetically, there was another religion that the majority in this country adhered to — and their beliefs being implemented would deny the collective civil rights of black Americans – how many Christians would be in accord?

Love it or hate it, religious doctrine has no place in this conversation. We’re talking about the president’s political position — which is that he thinks the states have the authority to decide the issue, but he supports marriage equality – and many in the “Black Church” have decided to damn him to hell as a “false prophet.”

My grandmother shared some wisdom with me when I was growing up. She would always say, “Never be so heavenly minded, that you’re no earthly good.” In my humble opinion, it would be extremely beneficial for more people to hear that message, if only for a moment to better understand the separation of church and state. Let’s be clear: Obama’s opinion could lead to people marching all over the country with rainbow banners, joined by Liza Minnelli and her back-up dancers singing “It’s Raining Men” and it wouldn’t matter.

This is still a states’ issue.

Churches don’t have to do a thing but keep preaching whatever gospel they choose, which means that the issue lies in the fact that Obama dared to voice an opinion that didn’t align with black evangelicals. For an institution, which for the most part is rooted in black liberation theology, it is amazing that many are threatening to turn their backs on him because he believes that the LGBT community deserves equal civil rights under the law.

In an expected twist, for those who don’t want to appear sanctimonious the argument takes on a more nuanced tone. It’s not that they don’t want “gays” to have the right to marry, it’s just that “gay rights” aren’t as important as civil rights. This binary opposition is extremely problematic and does nothing but limit our collective progression as a nation.

Simply put, equality for the LGBT community is a step forward for African-Americans because many in the LBGT community are African-American. 

They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends and yes, even our cousins n’nem. They are our nurses, doctors, lawyers, educators, and yes, they face the same racism that many of us face on a daily basis. It is absolutely ridiculous that, for some reason, many African-Americans, specifically heterosexuals, feel that we own the patent on oppression.

Many of us will fight against immigration laws, because “Mexicans are taking all the jobs;” some will even assault the reproductive rights of women, because they’re “murdering black babies;” the majority of us will ostracize the LGBT community because it’s “against God’s plan;” but when the narrative shifts to issues that face the black community at-large, many of us become hypocritical broken records moaning over and over “your blues ain’t like mine.”

Well, you know what? Everyone has their own truth, and it doesn’t have to be the same to be just as painful.

I often do not agree with President Barack Obama, but in this, I support him 100%. Even as a senator, he stated that faith has no place in politics and that because we do not share common spiritual eyesight, we can only share common laws. Most powerfully, he says that “religiously motivated [politicians] must translate their concerns into universal — not religious — values.”

This means that any Christian who voted for him and is now withdrawing support after his announcement was either not paying attention, voted for him strictly because he’s black  — or thought that he would be swayed by the huge levels of evangelical support into translating Christian doctrine into United States policy.

And it’s time they admitted that to themselves.

I’m not sure exactly where Obama’s support in the black community will land after the dust settles; but for me, I will take equality over religious hypocrisy every day of the week and twice on Sunday – and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Emme

    Great article, great points.

    This sentiment is reflected by Mayor Cory Booker:


    I hope people are able to put aside their personal beliefs to respect the greater issue of individual civil rights under the law…

  • L

    Man, who cares what Black people think?

    At one time because of our history in this country and our treatment and Blacks response to this treatment, Blacks had some moral authority; We have lost that. Blacks need to shut up their moralizing.

    For decades, we have had Black men standing in front of the world spewing their poisonous garbage and hate and calling it rap and hip hop music with a phat beat. All the n*****rs, H****s, b****s, etc; All the talk of killing each other, the hate they have shown Black women because they are Black with Black features, displaying shamelessly all of their self hate and powerlessness,( not to mention all the other issues that we talk about endlessly and never solve) and EVERYONE(Black women and men) supporting it or they were very quiet(same thing). What kind of men do this? Where in the history of the world has another group of men done this and the women so silent and passive?

    Why do you think Black men show up here and they are also on Youtube preaching at and trying to school Black women; Why dont they go to stormfront, why dont they preach to Rush Limbaugh, David Duke, Fox news the police, each other. Why? Because they way the go at Black women, you would think Black women are killing them in the streets,deny them employment, etc.Why? Because NO ONE gives a damn what Black men have to say about anything and the only ones who pay any attention to Black men are Black women.

    We are dead people.

    With all of this, Blacks have killed their right to moralize to anyone about anything. Those Black religious leaders, LOL, who have stayed silent for the most part through all of this have no POWER OR MORAL AUTHORITY and them and Black people as a whole need to shut up. No one cares.

  • befree

    Many have turned their backs on him because he believes that the LGBT community deserves equal civil rights under the law. Proof please? There is no evidence that LARGE NUMBERS of Black Christians said they will vote against Obama on this issue. Did his pro-choice stance cost him votes? I am disgusted by the exploitation of a false controversy. Black People (Including Black Churchgoers) Are Not a Monolith, contrary to popular belief. We approach elections with the same thoughtfulness and complexities as everybody else. I’ve always found it insulting to say that we do not engage in a serious decision-making process around this. For black voters who are opposed to same-sex marriage, however, there is no evidence that it is a galvanizing issue at the polls. There has been a lot of unfounded conjecture that black support for the president will wane substantially, with absolutely no data to substantiate that and I see black folks playing into all across cable news and on blogs. For example, even though 58 percent of Black voters supported the prop 8 measure, which overturned the right of same-sex couples to marry in California, 90 percent of that same electorate still voted for Obama. The massive support held up despite the fact that Obama had spoken against Proposition 8 himself.
    You didn’t see any falloff from black voters because Obama said that he believes we shouldn’t be discriminating at the ballot box. Other examples, his repeal of DADT and his decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, he still has a high approval rating among black folks (Including Black Churchgoers). In surveys on what Black voters consider to be the most important problems in the country gay marriage does not even show up. SMH.
    Call me crazy, but one would do better appealing to folks on practical issues they could agree with i.e. health care, education, unemployment etc. than trying to challenge/ change their core religious beliefs. Religion and politics should be separate for those hold elected positions and HOW they govern. However, religion can play any role or no role at all in the individual voter’s decision making process. See that’s how it works.
    Some numbers that NEVER get noticed
    Pew Research
    Since 2008, the proportion of African Americans favoring gay marriage has increased from 26% to 39%, while opposition has fallen from 63% to 49%.
    Black folks ((Including Black Churchgoers) are far more politically sophisticated than folks give us credit.

  • Toppin (Formerly Known As Just Sayin’)

    Hmm very good points here. However, I think part the responsibility for these men falls squarely on the shoulders of their mothers (see my comment on the article titled: A Future Mother’s Thoughts: A Letter to My Unborn Daughter. I believe black mothers are raising their sons very differently from their daughters (whether or not a father is in the picture seems insignificant because the results appear to be the same). Read my comment on that article before you judge me for faulting their mothers. The evidence behind my theory is clear. My theory explains that deafing silence you hear from black women concerning black men’s behavior.

    Moving on…

    Reading your comment and many others I’ve read on this site one is left questioning why the hell do black women want anything to do with black men? If we are indeed dead as a people I think for some it is a welcome death.

    Long before there was hip hop there were books like Soul On Ice, which also displayed black men’s hatred and contempt of black women. And as you point out not a word was said by these “moral” pimps in the pulpit. In fact Mr. Cleaver, a self-proclaimed rapist of light-skinned black women and white women (he thought dark-skinned black women were too inferior to rape) was praised for his book. Black men called him righteous. Mind you these are the same men who had so much to say when Alice Walker hit the scene DECADES LATER with The Color Purple, in which she portrayed (and she did redeem the character in the end of the book), a black man as a brutal and cruel individual…similar to way black men portray themselves and feel righteous doing so.

    The real reason why you NEVER see or hear black men collectively going after Rush, Fox News etc is because they fear white men. It is as clear as day. They know it. White men know it. And black women know it.

    All their bravado and machoism is a false representation of themselves. It is a way of hiding insecurity.

    I honestly think this is where the hatred of black women comes into play. If anyone has witnessed the utter powerlessness of black men, it is black women and they resent it. They see the look of pity in black women’s eyes and they resent it. They resent it even more when you, as a black woman, fall hook, line and sinker for the man they fear and hate. It’s much easier to take their frustrations out on other powerless people (black women and other black men) than take it out on the individuals they fear.

    Now here is where I think things are going to get very interesting with the black community and the issue of gay marriage:

    If you are like me, and you live in a place with a decent population of black people, you have probably noticed what seems like a rise in black homosexuality. Black men and black women alike are proudly coming out the closet (?) People you just knew were straight five or six years ago are suddenly gay and happily in relationships with members of the same sex. From my observation most of these “happy” gay unions involve black WOMEN.

    Question: Is there a fear from the black community, especially from black preachers (read: men), that black women MIGHT find a solution to their marriage woes (if you can call it that) via same sex marriage? Would such unions solve the problems of man sharing, gender imbalance and single parent homes? Would such unions eventually marginalize black men (similar to the way black women are marginalize by interracial relationships)?

    Something to think about.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    with friends like you black people don’t need enemies……sucks to be U

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