President Barack Obama should tread gently regarding the issue of gay marriage if he wants to keep his support base, says a new coalition of Black activists. Representing the Congress on Racial Equality, Concerned African-American Pastors and other religious organizations, several community leaders have sent a letter to the White House.
The group expresses concern over Obama’s plans for the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as occurring between a man and woman, excluding gay unions.
“Although you have voiced support for marriage as defined as a union between one man and one woman, we are concerned that your campaign promise to change the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will work at cross purposes with your pro-marriage stance,” the activists wrote.
Citing the increased divorce rate, increased co-habitation by unmarried couples and greater numbers of births out of wedlock in recent decades, the group warns that marriage is already a “fragile” institution. Claims of civil rights by gay men and women don’t apply to their desire to have spouses of the same sex, despite growing demand in the gay community, say the letter’s authors.
“Changing the definition of marriage will have many unintended consequences, which will hurt generations to come,” continues the statement. “If one redefines marriage, then the family is redefined. If the family is redefined, then the nature of parenting must also be redefined. We are concerned that an attempt to recognize and adjust to one group's sense of alienation may actually confuse future generations of children about their sexuality and blur lines of responsibility in our families. The very definitions of motherhood and fatherhood may be unnecessarily challenged in years to come.”
Gay activists call suggestions about parenting problems or sexuality issues in the children of same-sex parents foolish. Parenting by same-sex couples, they counter, is no more difficult for youth to comprehend than parenting by heterosexual parents. They point to research that shows children with gay and lesbian parents having the same levels of social skills and emotional development with children with heterosexual parents.
But the writers of the letter to Obama call any comparisons between homosexuality and race out-of-bounds: “The laws enacted by Congress during a century of struggle for equal rights for African Americans were intended to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, not on the basis of an individual's sexual preferences or personal behavior. Advocates of same-sex marriage want people to think that it can peacefully coexist alongside traditional marriage. But it will create a conflict between people of faith who fervently believe in traditional marriage and the law (that would say) marriage includes those of the same-sex variety.”