Same-sex marriage dialogue takes new tone

May 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Obama's historic endorsement of same-sex marriage has pushed the issue back into the spotlight, and some Bay Area clergy are saying it's time to take a closer look at the issue.

Having a strong opposition to gay marriage places most churches in sync with other Christian denominations.

But at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, things are different. Reverend Amos Brown, pastor of the church, preaches tolerance and says there is a need for inclusion.

"There are people in this nation who happen to be gay and lesbian and they deserve to have equal protection under the law," he said.

On Sunday, former San Francisco mayor and current Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" to discuss Obama's new position.

"I'm proud of the president. I'm proud he stood up on principle. I'm proud he's on the right side of history and I'm proud he did it during an election," Newsom said.

Newsom has played a role in shaping the national dialogue. In 2004, as mayor, he defied the law and allowed same-sex couples to marry at city hall. In 2008, California voters passed Prop 8, banning same-sex marriage.

Reverend Brown is quick to point out that his church will not be performing same-sex weddings. He describes it as a wedge issue, designed to divide the African-American community and diminish support for Obama.

"We're not going to be duped. We're not going to be fools and allow anybody to do something that would derail the re-election of this man, Mr. Barack Obama," Brown said.

But opponents to same-sex marriage say whatever the motivation -- political or otherwise -- an attempt to redefine marriage is a step in the wrong direction.

"It's a matter of social justice. Marriage is the only institution that unites kids with their moms and dads," said Bill May of Catholics for the Common Good. "We have to think carefully about the consequences of eliminating that institution from the law."

Prominent social conservatives are claiming that Obama's endorsement of gay marriage could be the fuel Mitt Romney needs to unite the right in November.


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