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Gay marriage foes reek of hypocrisy

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Updated: May 9, 2013 6:13AM

Hypocrisy is in full bloom this spring. Some of Chicago’s leading black clergy are pushing African-American legislators to reject the same-sex marriage bill pending in the Illinois General Assembly.

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act would provide same-sex couples the same legal rights heterosexuals enjoy in marriage. The Illinois Senate approved the measure on Valentine’s Day. The House version needs 60 votes for passage.

Given the groundswell of support for same-sex marriage, it is sure to pass, if not sooner, later. Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to sign it.

Now clout-heavy black ministers are turning the screws. These influentials have been lobbying hard against the bill, including Bishop Larry Trotter, of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church, and the Rev. James Meeks, a former state senator and senior pastor at Salem Baptist Church.

They have mounted a fierce lobbying effort, including robo calls and pitches on black-oriented radio. In one commercial, Trotter urges black legislators to vote “no.”

“Every Christian,” Trotter argues, should oppose the bill. “Marriage was the first institution created by our God. He tells us in the word that marriage should be between a man and a woman and not those of the same sex.”

Some ministers, I am told, are warning legislators that if they endorse same-sex marriage they will not be welcome in church.

And that they had better watch their political backs in the next election. How’s that for “Christian” charity?

They make one practical argument: that churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriages. However, the pending legislation includes protections for religious freedom.

On Friday, the African American Clergy Coalition symbolically locked arms at a press conference with Cardinal Francis George. The head of the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese is a longtime and heavily armed enemy of same-sex marriage.

One problem: The cardinal and his allies have lost nearly every battle over LGBT rights in Illinois in recent years.

I’m betting they will lose this one, too.

Some religious leaders like to label gays and lesbians as immoral beings who live an unnatural lifestyle. But the real immorality is religious leaders’ call to exclude an entire group of people based on whom they love.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Here you have black people denigrating the civil rights cause of the 21st century.

African-American opponents of this cause have either forgotten, or chosen to ignore, the legacy of civil rights in this nation. The 20 members of the Illinois House Black Caucus would not be in office and poised to vote on this landmark legislation if not for the civil rights victories of the 20th century.

Under state laws, interracial couples were once prohibited from having sexual relations and marrying — on the basis that those unions were immoral and, yes, unnatural.

African Americans were long subjected to the same pernicious discriminatory argument — that we are unequal in the eyes of the law.

Black folks have much at stake in this fight. Our children, nephews and nieces, aunts, and parents are members of the LGBT community. They deserve the right to thrive and prosper in legal, equal marriage. Several black lawmakers are on the fence on the bill. The support of the black caucus is vital.

This Christian prays they will listen to the heroes in this fight — the many legislators and clergy who have put their reputations and clout on the line.

Advocates such as State Rep. Christian Mitchell, the freshman legislator and sole black co-sponsor of the House marriage bill. Passionate lawmakers like State Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago and State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields. They have eloquently and passionately pushed this cause on the Senate floor and behind closed doors. And progressive, risk-taking black pastors like the Rev. Richard Tolliver and Rev. B. Herbert Martin.

Brothers and sisters, keep the heat on.

This Christian prays the hypocritical Bible thumping will fall on deaf ears.

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