As Maryland has become ground zero in the culture war, Jackson is on the front lines. In February, the state legalized same-sex marriage. Now a ballot initiative to overturn that law awaits voters in November, and activists led by the National Organization for Marriage believe they can prevail by appealing to African Americans, particularly socially conservative churchgoers. Some of the biggest mega-churches in the country are in Maryland, notes Derek McCoy, an associate pastor at Jackson’s church and the director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, an umbrella group bankrolled in part by NOM. “The difference is they’re African American.”
NOM believes that stirring up anti-gay-marriage fervor among black voters has helped it win referendums in other states by pitting two groups of loyal Democrats against each other. As internal documents released during Maine’s investigation into the group’s finances asserted, “The strategic goal is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”
Jackson is exactly the kind of African American spokesperson the NOM memo envisions. “There’s been a hijacking of the civil rights movement by the radical gay movement,” he said on CNN after backing California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. “You can’t equate your sin with my skin.” He has received $20,000 from NOM’s education fund and has rallied support for same-sex marriage bans in Florida and Washington, DC, where he joined Councilmember Marion Barry to oppose a marriage equality bill in 2009.
Wikipedia notes that Jackson “believes abortion and gay marriage are causing the erosion of the black family”
“I don’t know of anybody black who says, ‘I hate gay people.’ We’re more accepting generally. But you overlap that – homosexuality and gay marriage – with broken families, and we don’t know how to put it back together,” he says.
“I believe that the Bible teaches that same-sex marriage is an oxymoron,” he says. “If you redefine marriage, you have to redefine family. You’d have to redefine parenting. I’m looking at the extinction of marriage. And black culture is in a free fall.”
Jackson has agreed with Pope Benedict XVI‘s belief that condoms promote AIDS.
So, according to Bishop Jackson’s logic, when African Americans and women were finally given the right to vote, we had to re-define voting.
“When women got the vote, they did not ‘redefine’ voting. When African Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not ‘redefine’ eating out,” said Sex and the City actress and LGBT activist Cynthia Nixon to Brian Brown in 2010.
Apparently, he wasn’t listening.
Serwer’s piece is extraordinary. There’s actually a lot more in it, including this chart, which I trust he’ll forgive me for including (a small version of) here (right.)
When Prop 8 was overturned in August of 2010, here’s what Bishop Harry Jackson had to say, courtesy of NOM, who acted as his booking agent:
“This is a travesty of justice. The majority of Californians — and two-thirds of black voters in California — have just had their core civil right to vote for marriage stripped from them by an openly gay federal judge who has misread history and the Constitution to impose his San Francisco views on the American people. The implicit comparison Judge Walker made between racism and marriage is particularly offensive to me and to all of us who remember the reality of Jim Crow. It is not bigotry, it is biology that discriminates between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. To make a marriage requires a husband and a wife, because these unions are necessary to make new life and connect children to their mother and father. Judge Walker’s slur will not stand the test of time and history, we demand that Congress and the Supreme Court act to protect all Americans’ right to vote for marriage.”
Jackson was one of several anti-gay Black church leaders to attack the NAACP and President Obama over same-sex marriage last month: