Black Church leaders in Maryland are intensifying their efforts to turn out voters in opposition to a Nov. 6 referendum that would legalize same-sex marriage, and the Catholic Church has taken up the cause as well by encouraging priests to talk about the issue.
According to the Baltimore Sun
, the effort dubbed "Marriage Sundays," was evident in black churches across the state Sunday, with ministers interrupting regular services to preach against legalizing same-sex unions.
"If something is perfect, it does not need changing," Bishop Willard E. Saunders Jr. told his Cherry Hill sanctuary Sunday. "You can't redefine what God has already called perfect.
"Marriage, the institution, is perfect," he added. "It is the people who are imperfect."
Though not technically linked to the black church effort, which is expected to continue over the next month, the Archdiocese of Baltimore
is encouraging its priests to talk about the referendum.
In addition, the Sun reported Monday that copies of the Catholic Review with a column by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori urging opposition to the Question 6 referendum are being passed out in parishes. Lori has also written a letter to Catholics that will be distributed Oct. 21, the newspaper said.
The effort comes as African-American voters appear to be more open to same-sex marriage, in the wake of President Barack Obama's and the NAACP's announced support for it.
Recent polls also show that more voters appear to be in favor it than four years ago when a previous referendum failed, although the Sun reported that "the support is soft."
Despite the effort to generate more opposition in the state's black community, there are some black pastors and Catholics who support the referendum even though they would draw the line at performing the unions in their own churches.
"This is about whether we will live in a society where everyone is treated equally under the law, or whether we will have one standard for some and another standard for others," the Rev. Donte L. Hickman Sr., pastor of Southern Baptist Church, said in a recent email to his church members.
"I will uphold the rights of all people, regardless of their religious beliefs and personal choices," he said.
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