Gay Marriage Debate “Louder Than Ever” Among African Americans

From top-left: former Columbus Urban League President Sam Gresham, President Obama, Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Elder Michael Reeves, and Lehigh University African Studies Prof. James Peterson.(Photo: WOSU composite)
From top-left: former Columbus Urban League President Sam Gresham, President Obama, Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Elder Michael Reeves, and Lehigh University African Studies Prof. James Peterson.(Photo: WOSU composite)

Members of the local African American community continue to react to President Obama’s newly-announced support of gay marriage.

The demographic was key to the President winning the White House in 2008, but African Americans have traditionally been less reluctant to support gay marriage.

Lehigh University African Studies Professor James Peterson says there are several reasons for that.

“Some of the mesogyny and much of the homophobia that is generated or becomes more pervasive within the African American community is tied to this really, really complex history that has to do with the emasculation of black males during slavery and the systematic oppression of black folks over time,” Peterson says.

The issue of gay marriage was the talk of many African American churches this past Sunday, says Sam Gresham, a political consultant and former director of Common Cause Ohio and the Columbus Urban League.

Gresham says the topic of same-sex marital vows has never been louder within black churches than it is now.

“It’s an interesting discussion when you get eight to 10 African Americans in a room. And that’s happening all over America this week, particularly on Mother’s Day. It happened in the pulpit I was in – the pastor spoke about it,” Gresham says.

One pastor who did not speak about it: Elder Michael Reeves, pastor at Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus.

While Reeves says he preached about other topics on Sunday, he says gay marriage is among the issues African American churches need to address in a more-intelligent way.

“It’s like church has been a spiritual drug that when you’re stressed out you, you go to church, get a little drug, feel good, go home and live happily ever after.

“That is not real life. That is not what God intended the church to be.”

Reeves is staunchly opposed to gay marriage. He says same-sex marriage compounds parental questions and concern faced by many African Americans.

The latest poll from the Pew Research Center says African American support for gay marriage has increased by 20 percent since 2008.

Comments