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Christian leaders speak up for same-sex marriage: "We stand with the God of compassion"

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

A group of Metro Detroit clergy leaders stood together Thursday to send a clear message: They support same-sex marriage and equal rights for LGBT people.

They also strongly condemned some of their fellow Michigan Christian leaders who are fighting to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Last week, a group of about 200, mostly Michigan-based black pastors declared that “the fight is on” to protect “traditional” marriage.

That group – with help from the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center – filed an amicus brief in support of the Michigan Marriage Amendment with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. A number of conservative religious groups have filed similar briefs.

Michigan voters approved that constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2004. But a Detroit federal judge recently ruled it unconstitutional – a ruling Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has appealed to the 6th Circuit.

This ongoing legal and public campaign against same-sex marriage has angered other Christian leaders in Michigan, who say their faith stands with a “God of compassion” and values all people.

Rev. Lindsay Anderson of the Detroit Cooperative Parish said that Christian groups fighting gay marriage “do not speak for us.”

“We call upon the Christian community to love, honor and respect our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters,” Anderson said. “Because they – as we – are created in the image of God.”

Michael Nabors, pastor of New Cavalry Baptist church in Detroit, said the Christian tradition promotes “a vision of family that is about love and reconciliation” – and that same-sex marriage is “in keeping with that rich Biblical tradition.”

Nabors took particular aim at some black pastors who have expressed outrage about framing same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue. They argue that comparing the LGBT community’s struggles with the historic brutality suffered by African Americans trivializes the civil rights movement.

But Nabors said that as a Christian and African American, he can’t accept that kind of thinking.

“As a leader form a community that has endured slavery, terrorism, and hatred of every kind known to man, how could I be a leader in a church that would oppress any of God’s children?” said Nabors.

“I take offense to that. And there are many others like me.”

Thursday’s event at Detroit’s Salem Memorial Church was part of the ongoing Michigan for Marriage campaign, backed by the LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan.

Clergy leaders said they have no plans to jump into the court battle over same-sex marriage. Instead, they plan to focus on public outreach, and make sure pro-LGBT Christian voices are being heard.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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