Black Pastors, Marriage Equality and NOM's Money

A 2005 article on now-disgraced Atlanta pastor Eddie Long highlights a disturbing perspective to this issue of the National Organization for Marriage utilizing the black church and leaders against marriage equality that very few people are openly talking about.

The article quotes the Rev. Timothy McDonald, who theorizes that there was a tie between Long's 2005 anti-marriage equality march held in Atlanta and a $1 million grant he received from the faith-based initiatives of the Bush administration. McDonald also asserts that other black pastors who received faith-based initiatives money organized public campaigns against marriage equality.

When I read the recent, disgusting comments of Pastor Patrick Wooden and several other black ministers and leaders assembled by NOM to combat marriage equality, I can't help wondering if we are seeing a retread of this theory.

While I'm certainly not making pointed accusations, I have been amazed at how quickly and conveniently these coalitions between NOM and several black pastors and leaders have come together; I have also been alarmed by the rhetoric. There seems to be a degree of unrestrained glee and vindictive pleasure in not only attacking marriage equality and dehumanizing the gay community, but also -- particularly in Wooden's case -- going on a tangent about alleged gay sex acts.

And they do this even though they personally know members of the gay community, either by family relationships or as members of their congregations.

These folks come across like well-paid hired guns. Their tone betray a certain eagerness, like that of customers attempting to take advantage of an exclusive sale at the mall, or of prospectors who just discovered a mountain of gold for the taking.

And in this case, we may be talking about NOM's mysterious funds. Remember, the organization has fought tooth and nail to conceal not only how much it has, but also just who is footing the bill. Yet NOM spends that money like water, brazenly committing  large sums of money to stop marriage equality in states like New Hampshire and Washington.

Also, I would be remiss not to mention that former NOM head Maggie Gallagher is used to receiving possibly inappropriate largesse for her "opinion." According to Media Matters:

[Gallagher] received $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 to conduct a briefing and write brochures and a Crisis magazine article that promoted the Bush administration's $300 million marriage initiative. She received an additional $20,000 in 2002 and 2003 to write a report ("Can Government Strengthen Marriage?") for the National Fatherhood Initiative.

In addition, Gallagher promoted  Bush administration policies in several of her independent columns. She also testified in front of Congress in favor of  "healthy marriage programs." And she did all of this without disclosing the payments she was receiving.

So Gallagher is used to such questionable practices. The question is whether she brought these practices to NOM. It's not far-fetched to wonder whether or not any honorariums have been used to "motivate" prominent black ministers and leaders.

I am not the only gay person of color to have voiced this opinion. In the gay community of color, there has been much talk and opinion-forming that these ministers and leaders who step out publicly to not only vilify marriage equality but verbally crucify the gay community in general aren't exactly doing it solely on spiritual terms.

Again, I am merely speculating. However, if, when it's all said and done, we find out that money has in fact been greasing some brown, very well-manicured palms, the gay community of color won't be surprised, and we won't be shocked.

But we will say, "We told you so."

It's a phrase we have learned to use a lot -- usually when it's discovered that a homophobic black pastor is actually a closeted gay man.

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