City Desk

Tempers Flare Outside Council Chamber After Marriage Vote

Immediately after the D.C. Council's 12-1 vote to recognize same-sex marriage in other states, a small group of ministers and church congregants raised a ruckus in the hallway outside the fifth-floor council chamber at the John A. Wilson Building.

Perhaps the most livid was a well-dressed gentleman who identified himself as Paul Trantham, a member of Allen Chapel AME Church in Ward 8. "You are destroying our youth!" he cried to dozen gathered outside. "An abomination to God!"

Rev. Charlie Smith of the Missionary Baptist Conference urged electoral retribution: "Catania first!" he shouted.

Same goes for the Rev. Anthony Evans of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Ward 5. "They just kissed themselves goodbye," he said of councilmembers. "Harry Thomas is gone."

Same-sex supporters were outside as well; they were, needless to say, in a better mood. Says activist Peter Rosenstein, "I think it was an amazing day for the D.C. Council." In response to the ministerial demonstrations, he said, "I think people need to recognize there's a separation of church and state."

Also in attendance was former Department of Parks and Recreation Director Clark Ray, who said, "I just think it's a great day for the residents of the District of Columbia."

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  • HappyStraightGirl

    “You are destroying our youth!” ??? Right - because they are all GAY!? I think perhaps the pastors in Ward 8 are missing the real threats to youth in their neighborhoods. If they were all gay, I don't think there'd be as many teenage pregnancies out of wedlock...

    or are the confused about what gay means? Seriously, a bit more gay and a little less unmarried and unprotected sex might be good for the community.

  • Wrack

    Rosenstein's right. The only argument being made here is that some guy named "God" apparently wants a DC Council vote to come out a certain way. What an idiotic argument to make in a constitutional democracy. Next you'd want politicians telling you how to interpret your sacred texts.

    Under the opposition's argument -- made almost exclusively by Christians -- should we also deny marriage to heterosexual Jews, Hindus, Muslims, agnostics, etc., because they aren't blessed by the Christian God? Guess what: patently unconstitutional! You know why? Because this is the stupid confusion of public and private spheres that we were trying to avoid with the First Amendment!

    If church leaders want to make arguments based on public policy or legal interpretation, that's one thing. But making arguments before our legislature that are based on religious doctrine is not only stupid, churlish, and ignorant, it's useless as a method of lobbying and advocacy.

  • ABilly S. Jones-Hennin

    This is indeed a day to celebrate and to support those Council Members who understand the continued need of separation of church and state; who understand that the civil right to marry does not mandate any religious group to support or perform a marriage; who have seen other group of people denied marriage under miscegenation laws. Those African American ministers and their followers have forgotten their history when they were denied the civil right to marry and did so by jumping the broom. Our time has come.

  • Q

    Wow...Soddom, Gomorrah, California, ... and DC. As one who understands ABilly S. Jones-Hennin's historical reference, I'd say that being denied because you were born a different ethnicity is not the same as being denied because of your gender preference. Don't get it twisted. The motivation behind denying Blacks getting married was one of property...that is that blacks weren't considered human but were chattel. While slave owners might've believed that by slaves marrying they would see themselves as equal, the issue was more of controlling/restricting them because they weren't considered human. Trees can't marry, neither can dogs or cats, but if all things are equal, we should recognize all living things having this right too.

    While no one ever considered the GLBT population property, I feel that equating this cause with African-Americans in slavery is not valid. See, for 50 years or more the plight of ending segregation and EQUAL treatment for all races was wrapped around the Civil Rights banner. True, legislation should be fair and equitable. However, we are not an androgynous nation. Just as there are some things exclusive to a GLBT relationship, there are things that are exclusive to a heterosexual one. Though it is not mandated that we procreate, that's what we are designed for if we choose to do it. Legislation should neither impose, recognize, or deny this right either, but it does. If it didn't, there wouldn't be a legal age to get married or have consensual intercourse, etc.

    What's next, pedophiles, beastiality, etc.?

  • Mike Licht

    First Marion Barry voted for the measure; the second time he voted against it.

    Does this mean he merely favors extending recognition to marriages between bisexuals?


  • cminus

    Legislation should neither impose, recognize, or deny this right either, but it does. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be a legal age to get married or have consensual intercourse, etc.

    What’s next, pedophiles, beastiality, etc.?

    Q, I'm trying to avoid the feeling that your objection to same-sex marriage is that you've got some illegal paraphilia and don't see why gays should be allowed to marry each other while you can't even admit your attraction to children and/or dogs without getting arrested. But, assuming you're just being disingenuous, there's something called "informed consent" you may want to look into sometime. Children can't be assumed to be mature enough to give informed consent. There's no convincing evidence that animals can be meaningfully informed about anything. That's why pedophilia is illegal, and why beastiality is illegal, and how there can be an ironclad reason for these things to remain illegal even if gay marriage is perfectly legal.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Get married in Iowa, honeymoon in Hawaii, then move to DC; buy a house, adopt a kid, & live happily ever after. Welcome, my gay and lesbian friends.

  • Downtown Rez

    Yeah, Q's analysis doesn't explain Loving v Virginia and, more importantly in this matter, it errs in describing gender as a "preference".

  • EdTheRed

    How long until these ministers realize that many (if not most) of their congregations live in Maryland, and won't be much help when it comes time to vote the current council out of office?

  • JohnD

    These ministers better be very careful. Federal Tax Law and IRS regulations forbid churches and other 501(c)3 organizations from getting involved in partisan political campaigns. Minsters are not allowed to endorse candidates from the pulpit. They are allowed to say that Councilmember A supports same-gender marriage and Candidate B does not support it. But they are not allowed to then say to their congregation, "I am endorsing Candidate B because they do not support same-gender marriage." These Ministers risk putting their congrgation's non-profit status in jeopardy if they start getting involved in councilmanic elections.

  • Lexus

    It is crazy to say that gay marriage is destroying our youth! Look man...lack of parenting is destroying our youth. Not going to school is destroying our youth. Buying, using, and selling drugs is destroying our youth. Fornicating without condoms is destroying our youth. Deal with the real problems and leave gays out of the equation. If the only concerns with our youth were possible homosexuality, then maybe the argument would be valid. As it's a red herring.

  • Q

    I see there are a few comments to my original comment. Not that making things clearer would change anything, but let me try. I mentioned pedophila and beastiality because like homosexuality, they are (or once were) considered taboo. I'm not comparing GLBT to kiddie pornographers or "animal lovers", but to most churches (Black, White, Asian, etc.), sin is sin. That sin includes fornication, lying, stealing, etc. With sin being a broad area, I'm not going to debate the definition of sin here, but you get what I'm trying to say.

    While "homosexuality" isn't illegal, the practice of it via sodomy is in some towns. So what the Council has effectively done is similar to the gun debate. We've legalized guns, but attempted to outlaw bullets. Unless this is an iterative step towards legalizing it in the District, all this is really is grandstanding and giving the appearance of being progressive. If you accept other states' pro-state legislation, that also gives you room to accept other states' doctrine against same sex marriage. It's a slippery slope. Iowans surely wouldn't have accepted our former firearms legislation, yet the Council feels we must be compelled to accept their same sex marriage legislation.

    Same-sex marriages do not promote equality. On the contrary, they promote a specialized segregated protected class. Meaning that you have to have a separate but equal definition of marriage for a certain group of people, etc.

    Can someone please tell me what the big deal is about being "legally" married to the same sex? Is it just to be able to get a Marriage License from City Hall? Prior to this, wills, property deeds, etc. didn't care what gender you were during a probate hearing. Property changes hands daily and there isn't any need to determine the 'spouses gender or spouse at all. Health insurance companies now allow "special" instances of "family" members (legal partners) on the same policy. Jewelers surely won't stop two men or two women from buying wedding bands. In fact, the only entity that doesn't acknowledge same sex marriage is the CHURCH! And no legislation is going to convince them to change.

    As for Barry's hyperbole about destroying our youth, there is some truth to it. Not in the manner that you think however. Because pop-culture and the media embrace alternative lifestyles, essentially the forecast for future generations could be grim. Same-sexes can adopt and even be foster parents, but as for creation...sorry, that has to be left to us lowly heterosexuals. If more than 50% of individuals choose to be homosexuals, the population will experience a downward slide.
    However, unlike homosexuality, specific agendas haven't been presented to make them legal.

  • Q

    To John D's comment, he is exactly right. But I think Barry's angle is not that Rev. Williams of his Ward is telling people, including Barry who to vote for. What Barry is saying is that "every shut eye ain't sleep." Meaning, just because you don't see the Black community protesting/marching against this issue doesn't mean that the sentiments aren't there. You best believe that if this topic is brought up in the barber shops, beauty shops, convenience stores, etc. the African-American community has a comment.

    To EdTheRed's comment, you couldn't be further from the truth. While there is a good contingent of suburbanites who come into DC on Sunday mornings, there is a substantial amount of residents who worship in suburbia. Statistically it is probably 60/40 (local/non-local) in congregations. And for every suburbanite who worships in DC, they still have DC ties, be it family or friends who WILL vote.

    P.S., the last statement from the previous post (#12) was part of an earlier statement that got reworked.