Another Muslim group drops out of antigay coalition
February 10 2004 12:00 AM ET
A second Muslim organization has dropped out of an interfaith coalition pushing for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage following accusations about ties to terrorists and extremists, The Washington Post reports. The Indiana-based Islamic Society of North America is one of the nation's largest Muslim organizations, comprising 300 mosques and Muslim professional societies.
Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA's general secretary, called the allegations "completely baseless" and said they were aimed at discrediting the voice of moderate Islam in the United States. Nevertheless, he said, ISNA
voluntarily withdrew from the alliance's advisory board in January to avoid further dissension. "By sitting on the board, we wanted to help the mission," Syeed said. "If dropping out would help the same mission, then we should graciously and honorably bow out."
The Alliance for Marriage is a bipartisan coalition of more than 50 religious leaders, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims, according to the Post. It is supporting a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage but not prevent states from enacting civil unions for same-sex couples. Both supporters and opponents of the alliance said the departures are unlikely to have much political impact, because the Muslim groups still support the alliance's goal and were never a driving force in its activities. Lobbyists for religious organizations said the resignations show how difficult it is to hold together an alliance of national Muslim, Jewish, and Christian groups, even on an issue unrelated to the Middle East. In 2001, the American Muslim Council, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group, withdrew from the Alliance for Marriage after a controversy over
statements by its former director praising the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, which is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization. In December, Rabbi Marc Gellman, cohost of "The God Squad" on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, resigned from the alliance's advisory board after JewishWorldReview.com charged that ISNA has taken "anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American" positions.