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Ministers Protest Gay Marriage

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The High Impact Leadership Coalition (HILC) is taking its conservative message on the road. The Maryland-based organization’s mission is to help educate and empower church, community and political leaders, especially as it pertains to ethical issues. The latest matter at hand is Amendment 2, a state constitutional amendment on the ballot this November which will keep traditional marriages as such and banmarriages between homosexuals. 

A group of about 40 Tampa Bay area pastors gathered at the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church for the first of five scheduled meetings with the HILC to discuss the matter and urge support for the ban.

Rev. W. James Favorite is pastor of Beulah Baptist Institutional Church and a “life-long” member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Favorite may find it hard to continue his relationship with the 99-year-old organization since the official statement seems to be in opposition to the amendment. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has said that while the NAACP doesn’t have an official position for or against same-sex marriage, the organization is against any legislature that may discriminate based on membership of a particular group.

In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, Favorite is quoted as saying, “…if the Florida NAACP is taking those kinds of stands, then I think they are going to end up losing a lot of members because it certainly would be against the church. I don't know why anybody in NAACP would say anything like that when the NAACP came out of the church," Favorite said. "It's just in diabolical opposition to what we actually believe in."

Favorite disagrees with the notion that homosexual discrimination is comparable to the plight of African-Americans in this country. But Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., founder and chairman of the HILC, sees it as a two-prong approach.

“These folks haven’t slowed down long enough to listen to our position,” said Bishop Jackson, Jr., in an interview with ESSENCE.com. “We’re spearheading a statewide movement to protect marriage. We believe that it’s not really a civil rights issue, but it’s a Black family survival issue. If you redefine marriage, you redefine family. We have to protect the definition on marriage so that it doesn’t become outdated and out-valued.”

Bishop Jackson, Jr., lays the blame at his own feet. He believes the Black church hasn’t done enough to train congregations on building strong marriages and now have to be on an emergency tract to get the job done. He also wants to push the notion that this isn’t a political issue.

“This is about love for the Black community and Black family and trying to protect our people,” said Jackson, Jr.

HILC plans to push the Amendment 2 agenda and advertise similar forums for pastors in California and Arizona. 

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