October 25, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Over the weekend, the anti-marriage equality group Maryland Marriage Alliance held a panel discussion on Question 6, the marriage equality initiative that will appear on the November ballot, and inflammatory comments made by one of the participants has been making waves in the state this week. At the event, Pastor Robert Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church offered a fire-and-brimstone diatribe against equal marriage rights and gays and lesbians in general:
“The Scriptures in Leviticus 18:22 — you know what that says, that a man is not to lay down with another man; if they do that, it’s an abomination. But there is one verse I really wanted to drive home and then I’ll stop, but that’s in Romans Chapter 1. And it’s the very last verse — as you know, Paul addresses this. Listen to the last verse: “Knowing the righteous judgment of God that those who practice such things are deserving of death. Not only do the same” — but watch this — “for those who also approve of those who practice these things. If we don’t vote against it, then we are approving these things that are worthy of death!” (You can watch the video of Anderson’s comments here, via Jeremy Hooper.)
Also attending Maryland Marriage Alliance’s event last weekend was Greg Quinlan, president of the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, an ex-gay organization that advocates for gays and lesbians to change their ‘lifestyle’ and return to heterosexuality. But most significantly, seated directly between Anderson and Quinlan was Derek McCoy, Maryland Marriage Alliance’s executive director. What that means is that Pastor Anderson isn’t on the fringe of the anti-marriage equality or anti-gay movements in Maryland, he’s at the center of them–literally seated at the same table with the most important figure of the campaign against Question 6.
When asked about the comments, Derek McCoy responded with the following statement:
“Any attempt to imply that Dr. Anderson’s reading of scripture was a call to harm gays and lesbians is false and serves as a distraction from the real issues of this campaign. From the beginning, we have been deeply committed to civility and honor the value of everyone’s human rights. We continue to deplore violence or bullying against any person and or group of people on either side of this issue. … There are people of good will on both sides of this issue. … Supporting traditional marriage does not make anyone anti-gay.”
This is absolutely incredible, as in difficult to believe. The biggest problem with Anderson’s comments isn’t that they could be construed as a call to violence against gays and lesbians–when I first read them, that thought didn’t even cross my mind. The problem is that anyone would think such violent language is acceptable to use in a political campaign even in the abstract. Regardless of whether they constitute a literal call to arms, Anderson’s words are undoubtedly a call to hate.
And that’s where McCoy’s response truly comes across as hollow and craven. You cannot say your campaign is “deeply committed to civility” when it sits down at the table with anti-gay pastors who rail against homosexuality as a sin deserving condemnation, either earthly or not. It’s one thing to advocate for a ‘traditional’ definition of marriage as a union of the two sexes. It’s another to attack gays and lesbians based entirely on a selective reading of scripture. Pastor Anderson’s words are the true “distraction” from the “real issues of the campaign,” as McCoy puts it–not the response of marriage equality advocates.
In other news out of Maryland, NBC Washington’s News4 reported Tuesday that some absentee ballots sent to Maryland voters are missing an entire page, one that includes the state’s ballot initiatives, among them Question 6. Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections, confirmed that a number of absentee ballots in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County are indeed missing the second page, but told News4 that Maryland is investigating the issue and believes the number of incorrect ballots is small. Maryland residents who have received an incorrect ballot should contact their local election board: in Prince George’s County, the number is 301-430-8020. In Montgomery County, it’s 240-777-8550.