The Southern Baptist Convention today, at its annual meeting, adopted a resolution saying same-sex marriage is not a civil rights issue.
The resolution, passed nearly unanimously, reiterates the denomination’s long-held belief that marriage is “the exclusive union of one man and one woman” and that “all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful,” the Associated Press reports. It also says, “It is regrettable that homosexual rights activists and those who are promoting the recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ have misappropriated the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement.”
The denomination’s new president, Fred Luter, discussed the issue on CNN’s Starting Point this morning as well. He expressed his disagreement with President Obama, saying, “God has specifically spoken about marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s biblical. No president, whether it’s a president in the White House, no governor, no mayor, no one can change that. God has already established marriage between a one man and one woman. So I would stand for that because that’s what the word of God says and that’s what I believe in.”
The adherence to antigay beliefs comes as the denomination, the largest Protestant body in the U.S., is reaching out across racial lines. Luter is the first African-American to head the Southern Baptist Convention, which was founded by supporters of slavery who broke off from the First Baptist Church in America in 1845. In 1995 the Southern Baptists issued a formal apology for past support of slavery and segregation. Today attendees at the meeting in New Orleans voted to let member churches call themselves Great Commission Baptists if they desire to do so; this is “an alternative name less connected to the South and the group’s past ties to slavery,” Reuters reports.