A Delaware organization’s push for a marriage equality bill is now being backed by some church leaders. This comes after some high profile corporations and political leaders have recently stepped up to show their support.
Traditionally, African American churches have remained silent on the issue of same sex marriage, but three Wilmington pastors are now publicly showing their support for a state bill. Dr. Donald Morton, pastor of Perfected Life Church in Wilmington says this is not a theological issue, but a civil rights issue.
“This is a matter of making sure that everybody has equal protection under the law, whether they are black, white, gay or straight, everyone has equal protection under the law,” Morton said.
Just two years ago, civil unions became legal in Delaware, which was a major step for same-sex couples. It was also a big accomplishment for Equality Delaware, a non profit organization for gay rights that’s now focused on a marriage equality bill that will extend all the benefits of marriage to gay couples. According to Rev. Lawrence Michael Livingston of Mother African Union Church, marriage equality for same-sex individuals will not threaten the institution of marriage for heterosexual couples.
“Where we are now as a society is a part of the evolving culture. It’s a time for the evolution of culture and people have kind of gotten caught up in a culture that holds on to its old opinions,” Livingston said.
This issue hits close to home for the pastor of Wilmington’s Mt. Joy United Methodist Church. His son was gay and committed suicide in 2005. However, Rev. Hervey Ward Greer says his support for same sex marriage extends longer than that. He says he’s supported the idea for the last decade.
“I just believe theologically and biblically that the position I have stated can be more thoroughly defended biblically than any other position as it relates to civil marriage or union,” Rev. Greer said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Morton who’s not afraid of losing members of his church uses the Bible as a point of reference as well.
“Social justice and equality according to the book of Micah is that our responsibility is to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God, and no matter who that applies to and affects, we have the responsibility of living that out so that we don’t have a faith that we talk about, we have a faith that is lived out,” Dr. Morton said.
African American churches have been known to stay silent in the past for a number of reasons, mostly due to their denomination and faith. However, Rev. Greer says church leaders need to make it clear to their congregations and communities that they are not attempting to be judgemental as some Christians can be, but would like to have open conversations.
“I guess the thing that does bother me is that we really don’t, especially in the African American church, have open conversations about the issue without it becoming contentious and I think it would be healthy for us to have them,” Greer said.
Equality Delaware is hoping legislators in Dover will get the bill through the General assembly by the end of June. The organization is also looking to rally up more people like the three pastors to testify once public testimony begins.