WASHINGTON , D.C. (WJZ) - Black churches in Maryland stood up for same-sex marriage at the National Press Club Friday, with a number of pastors urging support for Maryland's ballot question.
Same-sex marriage is Question 6 on the Maryland ballot, and reads: “Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying.”
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton stands with clergy representing black churches in Maryland and around the country to support same-sex marriage.
“I would not want someone to decide whether I could be a Baptist or whether I could marry again on a second marriage,” Sharpton said at the press conference. “So why do I think I have the right to decide to tell others about how they deal with marriage? We’re in a democracy, not a theocracy.”
Supporters point out the law protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs and affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over who may marry in their faith.
“Marylanders will allow fairness for all to be the guiding principle,” Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton said.
Coates says attitudes toward same-sex marriage are changing in the black church. But supporters of traditional marriage point out that only four of the 11 pastors at the news conference are Marylanders.
You’re only finding very few people, and it even speaks to events like today where you got one guy in Maryland that is trying to get other people from out of state to come in and join his trolley cart, so to speak, about his trumpeting for same-sex marriage,” Derek McCoy of the Maryland Marriage Alliance said.
Regardless of which side members of the church community fall, the message for all Americans is to vote.
Question 6 television ads are expected to start airing in October in Maryland.