I knew it wouldn't be long before one of the most influential black bishops in America presiding over one of the largest Christian denominations (Church Of God in Christ) would issue a statement against same-sex marriage. However, nothing could have prepared me for the noxious and discriminatory language often used by the religious (white) right in a proclamation issued by Bishop Charles E. Blake and twelve other COGIC leaders.
Read the proclamation here.
I think it would be appropriate to tell you that I have a history with Bishop Blake and his home church West Angeles Church of God In Christ in Los Angeles. I was one of many thousand members that Bishop Blake would never know personally. Our only contact was during the day he shook my hand after I became a member and then he was whisked away by his security team.
I joined in 2005 during one of the most difficult and darkest periods in my life and began to renew my faith in God. While Bishop Blake's ministry may be well received by the mainstream you will never hear how detrimental the COGIC doctrine can be for it's gay and lesbian members. This proclamation against same -sex marriage and the language used is a perfect example of the spiritual abuse that is commonly experienced as a gay member of Bishop Blake's church. I'm not speculating but giving a first hand account.
It's unfortunate that COGIC relies on weak arguments such as procreation to deny gay and lesbian people the civil right to marry or they use passages from the bible that they believe condemn homosexuality and same sex unions. Although God never mentioned same-sex unions and many theologians disagree with the interpretation of scripture that has been used to oppress gays, history will record Bishop Blake and other religious fundamentalist as coming down on the wrong side of the issue.
There is an air of superiority in the church's statement that wants LGBT people to believe that we're less than, sub-human, and a demonic entity based on our God-given sexual orientation. This is a sick and twisted notion that any intelligent human being should flat out reject.
The truth is same -sex marriage has just become legal in Bishop Blake's backyard and the cries of injustice and the sweet taste of victory that he is familiar with having lived through the civil rights movement has been extended to another oppressed group. Now that we as black people have overcome (yet not entirely) we seem to be holding onto the key that will open the door for anyone else to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Maybe Bishop Blake and his faithful followers missed the memo but I want them to know despite their opposition to LGBT people and same-sex unions; marriage is a civil right. It may be a holy rite of passage for some who choose to go that route, but nevertheless a right that should not be denied based on sexual orientation. And there are affirming ministers and congregations that believe in inclusion and are more than happy to bless same-sex unions. The buck doesn't stop at West Angeles.
Let's re-visit this conversation in November when Californians overwhelmingly reject the proposed marriage amendment and same-sex marriage officially becomes the law of the land and the culture war begins to crumble.