MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Inside the Church of God in Christ’s historic Mason Temple, several pastors gathered to draw battle lines against same-sex marriage.
“We stand today to put America on notice that we will not obey an unjust law. Same sex marriages, they try to claim to is a civil right. They hijacked the Civil Rights Movement and say it’s the same thing, but it’s not the same thing,” said Rev. Bill Owens, the president and founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors.
Members of the Coalition of African-American Pastors and other ministers stood side by side to say they will refuse to obey the Supreme Court decision if the justices legalize same-sex marriage.
Rev. David Welch, president of the Pastor’s Council in Houston, Texas, was in Memphis to oppose same-sex marriage.
He said many pastors are prepared to call for civil disobedience as a way to protest.
“God created marriage between a man and woman and no Supreme Court jurisdiction can define this. We stand clearly saying we will acknowledge God’s law no matter what the cost, no matter what the price. If they want to fill jails with pastors across the nation of every color, denomination and every size who will stand for the laws of God and his truths,” Welch said.
Of course, others said they oppose the ministers’ position on same-sex marriage as they await the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This is a matter of being treated fairly and equally by the state. It’s not a matter of anyone else’s business at this point,” said Will Batts, the executive director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
Batts said this debate is one about equal rights for all Americans.
“I’ve never really talked about this as a civil rights issue and I know that has history, legacy and meaning and we need to respect that. This is about being treated the same as every other couple.” Batts said.
Still, the battle lines are drawn as supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage brace for the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“We are watching this story very closely. This affects a lot of people in our community. There are those of us in our community who’ve been married for decades and some who’ve passed away who never enjoyed equal treatment under the law and that’s a shame,” Batts said
“It’s not about gay people, but same-sex marriage because we have gay people and we love them and some of my best friends are gay. We love them and don’t dislike them. But when you go to same-sex marriage, you’ve crossed the line,” Owens said.