Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Religious Anti-LGBT Coalition Voices Opposition to Maryland Marriage Equality

PFLAG National recently lobbied in Annapolis with Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition that includes many national and LGBT and ally organizations (including PFLAG National) urging legislators to pass the marriage equality bill and gender identity non-discrimination bill by the end of 2012.

And yet some still oppose equal rights for Maryland citizens. Rev. Errol Gilliard, Sr., of Baltimore’s Greater Harvest Baptist Church, is leading his religious group against marriage equality. His ironically named coalition, the “Progressive Clergy and Laity in Action” (PCLA), has about 75 individual local members including the Maryland Catholic Conference, the Family Research Council affiliate Maryland Family Alliance, Missionary Baptist Ministers’ Conference of DC & Vicinity, and several Baptist churches in Baltimore.

“We are not a hate group,” Rev. Gilliard said to The American Independent, “This is not just a few preachers who are bigots.” Gilliard supports civil unions for same-sex couples, but stands firm against marriage equality because “the Bible is right….same-sex marriage is wrong.” He hopes to sway the African-American Democratic leaders in Maryland and convince them to vote against the marriage equality bill.

However, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has promised to support the marriage equality bill when it is re-introduced. He appeared in a video sponsored by Marylanders for Marriage Equality and voiced his support: “I’m a Marylander for marriage equality. As a free and diverse people of many different faiths, we choose to be governed under the law by certain fundamental principles. Among them—equal protection under the law for any individual and for free exercise of religion without government intervention.” Religious organizations will not be forced to marry same-sex couples under the proposed marriage equality law.

Gov. O’Malley touches upon something the PCLA seems to forget—though we have the right to practice any religion we chose, we also have the right to equality under the law. Personal religious beliefs are not grounds for denying an entire population of tax-paying citizens the equal rights they deserve.

Take Action: Join PFLAG National in our fight to gain marriage equality in Maryland! Visit Equality Maryland’s website and Marylanders for Marriage Equality to learn how you can contribute to achieving equal relationship recognition for LGBT Marylanders.