Pastors speak out against gay marriage bill
BY MIKE NOLAN firstname.lastname@example.org May 14, 2013 2:38PM
Bishop Lance Davis of the New Zion Covenant Church in Dolton, Illinois, and the African American Clergy Coalition and a group of pastors speak out against proposed legislation in Springfield regarding same-sex marriage at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, Illinois, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 16, 2013 6:07AM
With state representatives possibly voting on same-sex marriage legislation before the month ends, Bishop Lance Davis says that more than just a morality play, the issue could have implications for legislators who serve predominately black constituencies.
Blacks who in the past may have voted along party lines and consistently supported Democrats could rush into the arms of Republicans who line up against the gay marriage measure, Davis, leader of Dolton’s New Zion Covenant Church, said at a news conference Tuesday in Tinley Park where members of the clergy spoke out against the legislation.
The news conference followed a breakfast at the Tinley Park Convention Center, organized by the Illinois Family Institute, where more than 200 Chicago-area pastors were urged to rally to defeat the legislation, which has already been approved in the Senate and could be voted on in the House before representatives adjourn the current session at the end of this month.
Davis and other leaders of influential black churches are reaching out to voters, urging them to contact their representatives and tell them to vote against the bill. Robocalls to voters have come from James Meeks, senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church and a former state senator.
Davis said the effort “has been an awareness” campaign to get voters who oppose same-sex marriage to more closely examine their legislators’ positions on the issue. In the future, perhaps with a nudge from the pulpit, blacks could give broader support to Republican candidates who share their more conservative viewpoints, he suggested.
He’s not predicting a “mass exodus” away from Democrats, and said that some Democrats might “change their platform” and deviate from the broader party’s typical stance on some social issues.
Davis said the Legislature, in sanctifying same-sex marriage, would deliver a blow to the “first institution established by God,” and fundamentally alter the “Biblical construct of the family.”
Although several other states have approved similar legislation, Davis said he hoped members of the Illinois House would “draw a line in the sand.”
“We’re going to be the state that stands independent,” he said.
Thorin Anderson, pastor of Parkwood Baptist in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community, said he and other members of the clergy are concerned that kids are already being immersed in a culture that promotes aberrant behavior, and they’re trying to “defend and protect the children from these deadly influences.”
Tim Spitsberger, of Calvary Baptist in Tinley Park, noted that those who’ve exercised their First Amendment right to speak out against same-sex marriage have been subjected to criticism and ridicule. The pastor said he is “concerned that the foundation of our country is under attack,” and that there’s a risk of “no longer (having) the full liberty that amendment guarantees us.”
The Rev. Phyllis Pennese, an openly gay pastor who runs a tiny congregation for black gay, lesbian and transgendered people in Summit, says the bill is a matter of equality and civil rights. The daughter of an Italian immigrant father and black mother, she said that at the time her parents married, interracial unions weren’t encouraged and she doesn’t see a difference when it comes to gay marriage.
For a decade, she’s preached that love supersedes all at her church, Pillar of Love.
“Love is very powerful,” Pennese said. “Check your Scriptures. Love, grace, mercy and compassion and justice always trump law in the eyes of Jesus.”