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.

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137 Comments

  1. Mr Jay

    it’s not about equality because if it were the discussion would be civil unions that are afforded all the benefits the States give marriage. Marriage=Church. This is a campaign for social acceptance and compromising the church as an opponent.

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    • Marriage does not equal church. It never has and never will. Marriage existed long before the concept of church. And there are people of all faiths and even people who don’t belong to any faith that are “married”.

      Secondly, civil unions are not adequate because we would have restructure all of the language that currently exists that relate to marriage-related benefits and laws. It would be a bureaucratic mess. Why do we need all of the semantic gymnastics. Canada has universal marriage rights and they are doing just fine (for ten years). There are religious folks there too and they made it out okay. Let two consenting adults get their marriage certificate and be done with it. People who don’t agree with gay marriage don’t have to marry a gay person and they can hold on to their beliefs.

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    • @RJ. you asked a question regarding your similarities. They are not similar because of the question my 6th grade cousin once asked me. He asked, “why are some people saying they want people to like persons who are different from them, but they do not like a sex that is different from them”? He said he was confused that persons are called bigots if they are white and don’t like blacks but those who don’t like their opposite sex do not consider themselves prejudiced or bigoted. Ok we all know what your DNA says you are so please explain to my little cousin your answer. I could use a little clarity myself. So please enlighten me. thanks

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    • @ D-rhyme?

      What???

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  2. Moses Married Zipporah By the way...

    Thanks for perpetuating the sterotypes of The supporters and Non-supporters of the lgbt community!

    By the way this article was useless in fighting for the cause. These types of articles sway people away, yet the people who write them feel they show “support”. The name of the game is “inclusion” not “seclusion”. Know it or not your gonna need everybody to fight for this cause to win, including the “church goers” smh.

    I don’t support gay marriage but looking at it from a stand point if I did.

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  3. Lady P

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Being connected to both worlds of the traditional black church as well as an advocate for civil rights, I was well aware of the political challenge that President Obama would encounter.

    African-Americans simply need to “wake-up” in the sense that religious doctrines have a separate component from political decisions. Political decisions are mandated for the “civil rights” for all mankind to be treated fairly. The problem we need to rectify as much as possible is to teach the fundamentals of the separation pertaining to church and state. Hopefully, change will evolve from these efforts to regain much needed support and drive of the 2008 election. This has to be taught initially due to the narrow-mindedness of the black church. Once we connect their minds that the LGBT community consists of our loved ones with various careers “contributing members of this society”, the black church will realize that this is a battle of common decency for fair treatment and equal rights.

    One aspect which amazes me is that the church’s evolution is still stagnated within some areas of forward-thinking. In order to saturate our community with economic growth, higher education, and political awareness, more than religious tradition must be taught. The black church must realize if non-support of President Obama takes place, our health care, financial aid (college loans), small-business loans; and so many other areas will continue to be in jeopardy. The “bigger” picture is needed here.

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    • Ms. Terious

      Thank You!! but trying to get black church folk (as a collective) to see the bigger picture in regard to anything of this century is no small feat. this is what happens when the slave mentality carries on throughout generations. “just wait on jesus and all our problems will be solved.” newsflash: it’s not working! we need policy that will help reverse some of the damage that institutional racism has done to the “black community” and these people still think the bible is going to save them. this type of backwards/backwoods thinking hinders the progress of so many other aspects of black life, but let’s please continue to waste time worrying about things that have NO bearing on our personal lives whatsoever, like who someone else is f*cking.

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  4. In a perfect world, people would be okay with disagreeing. I’m a Christian and I’m really on the fence about this. My spirit tells me people can’t help who they love, but my religion tells me homosexuality is a sin.

    In my mind, God made us all and planned our lives so therefore He had to know that at some point a person would become homosexual, right? Would He still create someone that way and purposely go against His Word? But then again people don’t believe some folks are born gay either. Because I don’t really have a SOLID opinion on it, some may say there is something wrong with me or I can’t be a true Christian. Anyway though…

    I still support Obama. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and can support whatever or whomever they choose to support. I think that is the main problem with him announcing his support – people just assumed he was going to agree with the majority of his voters.

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    • I would suggest you read your Bible more and have talks with God about this issue b/c you don’t seem to understand it fully

      God didn’t ‘make [anybody] homosexual’ as you suggest

      We all are sinful creatures, we all have our struggles with sin

      Some of us struggle with addiction (gambling, alcohol, drugs, food)
      some of us struggle with temptation of the flesh (fornication, adultery, homosexuality)
      some of us struggle with perversion (homosexuality, pedophilia, pornography, etc.).
      Some of us struggle with GREED

      WE ALL have something. The only difference between the gay community and the Black (church-going) community is that Black church goers KNOW when they’re wrong and if they continue to sin it isn’t because they think the sin is ‘how God made them’, it’s because they want to

      The homosexual community can try to morally justify their lifestyle, here on Earth, all they want to but that’s not going to make a difference when they die and must face their judgement day

      I was against “Gay marriage” originally. At this point, I am not putting up a fight if they want Gay marriage to be legalized but I am not naive

      Mr Jay is right

      You must see the bigger picture. Please do not be simpleminded and believe that the gay community ONLY wants the right to get married. No. This fight is about something much bigger. It’s about turning homosexuality into a moral “right” (right as in opposite of wrong) in society and making it taboo for anyone to openly disagree with. The rich White gays want to enjoy ALL their privileges and the strong Christian folk are getting in their way and so they attack the weakest link of all Christians, the Black church. Because of our horrific status in society, obviously, one can assume Black people are in NO POSITION to judge the wicked lifestyle of other groups so this is being an easy picking

      Ultimately, it will become illegal for Churches to deny gays from being married in the church buildings. THAT’S when they know their ultimate goal has come into full fruition

      Some gays say they don’t care about being married in all churches and that’s not their goal. They lie, simply put. Because if Gay marriage is LEGALIZED and general society has fully accepted it as something morally right then denying it ANYWHERE on American soil will (and should) be considered discrimination.

      Even gay atheists would (eventually) care about being discriminated in churches

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    • Ms. Terious

      @S

      you sound crazy/paranoid as hell. atheists taking over churches? bwahahahaha!!! YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. have a seat!

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    • The Comment

      @ S.

      You are a perfect example of why Black people and the bibile don’t mix. The bible is a book of knowledge yet you are still ignorant.

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  5. jamesfrmphilly

    it is really easy to divide black people and get us to fighting over something.
    i wonder if that is why we are so oppressed?

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