Declaring “the fight is on,” a formidable coalition of conservative Christian groups filed legal briefs in federal appellate court Wednesday supporting Michigan’s ban on gay marriage.
Representing potentially millions of worshippers in the state, the Michigan Catholic Conference, the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a national coalition of Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons and evangelicals led by Catholic bishops filed three separate briefs Wednesday in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The briefs back Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in his efforts to defend the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, which was overturned earlier this year by a federal judge in Detroit.
Gay marriage would “destroy the backbone of our society,” said the Rev. Stacey Swimp of Flint, Mich., at a Wednesday morning rally held by African-American ministers at First Baptist World Changers International Church in Detroit.
Joining him were leaders with various Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, and non-denominational churches in Michigan, including the head of the influential Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity. The pastors represent hundreds of churches across metropolitan Detroit and included leaders with denominations such as Church of God in Christ (COGIC) that are popular in Detroit and strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.
The ministers criticized people who compare the struggle for same-sex marriage to the black civil rights movement, saying such a comparison is offensive and historically inaccurate. Noting that millions of blacks were killed by slavery and public lynchings, Swimp said that backers of gay marriage who compare their movement to black struggles are being “intellectually empty, dishonest.”
Catholic leaders in Michigan also oppose same-sex marriage, saying in their brief Wednesday that the voters’ will must not be overturned. Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron, spiritual leader of 1.3 million Catholics in metro Detroit, has said that people who support gay marriage should not present themselves for holy Communion.
The Thomas More Law Center –– a conservative legal center founded by conservative Catholic businessman Tom Monaghan –– filed a brief on behalf of Swimp and hundreds of other black ministers in Michigan and Ohio supporting Schuette’s defense of a 2004 voter-approved law, the Michigan Marriage Amendment Act, which says marriage is between one man and one woman.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down that law in March after a Detroit trial involving a lesbian couple who wanted to adopt each other’s children. Schuette is appealing that ruling and Wednesday was the last day to file briefs with the federal appellate court.
In their recent decisions legalizing gay marriage, judges have referenced the 1967 court case Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage in the United States.
The brief from the black ministers criticized the idea that allowing same-sex marriage is the same as allowing interracial marriage. Comparing the gay rights movement to black civil rights is “ignorant and myopic,” said Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law center, who attended the rally in Detroit to show support.
“Hallelujah” some in the crowd said as speakers attacked gay marriage and same-gender sexual relations. They criticized celebrities and sports stars such as Ellen DeGeneres and Michael Sam who identify themselves as gay.
“We believe in the Judeo-Christian conception on which America was founded upon,” said the Rev. Rader Johnson of Greater Bibleway Temple in Bay City, Mich.
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SOURCE: USA Today
Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press