HRC Blog

Making History: Illinois African American Clergy Announce Support for Same Sex Marriage

Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness ActPost submitted by Rev. MacArthur H. Flournoy, Deputy Director of Religion & Faith

Today, in a historic gathering of African American clergy assembled to take a supportive stance for marriage equality, more than a dozen clergy members convened a press conference at the Allegro Hotel in Chicago, Illinois to express their unequivocal endorsement of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, the bill that will legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.

“We support the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, and we urge the General Assembly to pass it”, stated the Rev. Dr. Richard Tolliver.”

Among those gathered was the Rev. Dr.  B. Herbert Martin, Bishop Carlton Pearson, Rev. Phyllis Pennese, Rev. Anthony Sullivan, Rev. Charles Straight, Rev. Booker Vance, Rev. Kevin Tindell, Rev. Chris Griffin, Rev. Vernice Thorn, Rev. Dawn Brumfield and others.

“I am a mother, a sister an aunt, a grandmother and a pastor who is devoted to God and who loves the Lord with all her heart and I support The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” remarked Rev. Phyllis Pennese

Speakers underscored that the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is not about religion, but essentially really a matter of civil marriage, resulting in equal protection and equal treatment under the law for all married couples, including gay and lesbian couples.

According to a poll released last month, more than 58% of all Americans support legalizing same sex marriage, with bipartisan support growing daily as more elected officials’ steps forward to announce their endorsement. 

Rev. Booker Vance, a Lutheran pastor, and executive director of a group of clergy committed to social justice, echoed support for marriage equality in Illinois. “We stand united as African American clergy today, calling on our state assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act –African American gay and lesbian couples are part of our families, communities and certainly our churches”

Rev. Dr. B. Herbert Martin, pastor in Chicago for thirty-three years, civil rights leader for more than fifty years called for support of the bill underscoring the need for support for the proposed legislation which is in keeping with his faith tradition.

“Discrimination is wrong, no matter whom the target is. We are all God's children and merit love and compassion. Gay and lesbian couples believe in family and commitment; all families benefit from the protections and security marriage brings. This issue is not new. For me, this is a continuation of the civil rights and equality work I have done all my life. I support this issue simply for one reason – it is the right thing to do, in keeping with my faith and the constitution of the United States.”

With passage of the Religious Freedom & Marriage Fairness Act, Illinois would become the 10th state to legalize same sex marriage in the nation, and the first state to do so in 2013.

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