As an African
American reared in the black church, I, like so many of my
same gender-loving brothers and sisters, am not
holding my breath for presidential candidate and U.S.
Sen. Barack Obama to come around on the issue of
marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Because he stands
in solidarity with African-American ministers on the
issue, using religion-based bigotry as his weapon of
Religion came to
Obama late in life, and he was reared in a nonreligious
household. His religious convictions were formed during his
20s, when he was a community organizer working with
black churches on the south side of Chicago.
As a central,
powerful, and revered institution within the
African-American community, the black church captivated
Obama's attention. He says he came to understand "the
power of the African-American religious tradition to
spur social change." And how much Obama really covets
the power of the black church for his own political
aggrandizement, rather than for its religion, has raised
questions in the minds of many.
MSNBC talk-show host Tucker Carlson suggests Obama's faith
is "suddenly conspicuous," suggesting that Obama has only
recently begun addressing his religious background as part
of "a very calculated plan on the part of the
Democratic Party to win" religious voters in the 2008
If Obama is
indeed using religion to win votes, he unfortunately placed
himself in a difficult quagmire--not only with LBGT
voters but also with religious liberals. He worships
in a conservative black church within a liberal
In July 2005, the
UCC General Synod overwhelmingly passed a resolution of
marriage equality. But in August 2005, Obama's pastor and
inspiration for the title of his recent memoir The
Audacity of Hope, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright
of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, spoke
against the synod's position.
denomination grappled with how to address the human
problem, the denomination also at that synod voted to ordain
a homosexual. Guess which item made the newspapers?
Maybe I missed something!"
And in his
closing tirades on same gender-loving issues, Wright
stated: "Are 44 million Americans with no health care
insurance less important than 'gay marriage'? Why
aren't black Christians in an uproar about that? Maybe
I am missing something!"
When the article
came out in light of the United Church of Christ's
stance on ordaining and marrying same-gender loving people,
it was disheartening for many of us to know that
Pastor Wright broke rank with his liberal denomination
to stand in solidarity with a more conservative black
So it is also not
surprising that in March, when Obama appeared on CNN's
Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Obama stood
where his pastor does on the issue.
"Well, I think
that marriage has a religious connotation in this
society, in our culture, that makes it very difficult to
disentangle from the civil aspects of marriage. And as
a consequence, it would be extraordinarily difficult
and a distraction to try to build a consensus around
marriage for gays and lesbians. What we can do is form civil
unions that provide all the civil rights that marriage
entails to same-sex couples. And that is something
that I have consistently been in favor of. And I think
that the vast majority of Americans don't want to see
gay and lesbian couples discriminated against when it comes
to hospital visitation and so on."
stirred during Holy Week when art student David Cordero at
the Art Institute of Chicago created for his senior project
a paper mache sculpture of Obama as Jesus that
went on display at a downtown gallery.
passersby, Obama's image, standing under a blue neon halo
and wearing a robe resembling one worn during Jesus's
era, inspired hope. And for these Americans, Obama is
a secular messiah who is believed to have come not
only to help the Democratic Party reinvent itself but also
rescue a country despised around the world.
But is Barack
Obama our present-day Jesus?
passers-by, just mentioning Obama and Jesus in the same
breath is not only blasphemous, but also an offense to
their civil rights. And so, too, many argue it would
be an offense for Jesus.
stood with all of those relegated to society's margins.
And what would
Jesus do on the issue of same-sex marriage?
The same thing
that he would do on the issue of interracial marriage:
concerning interracial marriages between African Americans
and white Americans ended in 1967 when the U.S.
Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws
unconstitutional in the case of Loving v. Virginia.
Ironically, that decision allowed Obama's parents to
therefore, understand our issues on marriage equality. But
instead, he has opted, like so many religious conservatives,
to use religion to justify his discrimination. And
that's an abomination.