BY Kerry Eleveld
March 09 2010 4:00 PM ET
“This really does help to put the nail in the coffin that African-American people won’t support gay people being able to marry,” Crawford said.
Last-ditch efforts to put a stay on the ceremonies were made by Bishop Harry Jackson and his supporters, who argued that the issue should be put to a referendum. But last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the opportunity to intervene.
Though much has been reported about the role that religion plays in demonizing gays and lesbians, Crawford said the effects have been overstated.
“I think the role that it’s playing is actually being overestimated,” he said. “What we’ve seen here in D.C. is that if we actually talk to people face to face and we ask for support from people of faith, that we can get it.”
In fact, one of the nearly 150 attendees of the ceremonies played a lead role in organizing D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality. The Reverend Cedric Harmon said support for the organization was a logical outgrowth of the Washington Interfaith Network, which had collaborated in the past on issues like poverty, homelessness, and HIV/AIDS.
“These were clergy throughout all wards in the district who had worked together on various social justice issues before — so this was a natural progression for them,” Harmon said.
Harmon said that when he first started building support for D.C. Clergy United in May 2009, the numbers went from 25 to 50 to over 150 clergy members in the span of just a few days. The organization now includes more than 250 clergy throughout the city.
“It was amazing,” he said, adding, “We need to send a message that now marriage equality is here, it’s not a threat to anyone. It simply will enhance the lives of families and couples throughout the city — so that everyone can live together in this community of the District of Columbia in a way that promotes family and love and a community sense.”