Influential African-American pastors have requested Attorney General Eric Holder to grant them a meeting with President Barack Obama, saying he broke their hearts by endorsing gay marriage – "something that is simply wrong" – as a civil right.
"We pray for the President ... President Obama is the fulfillment of our dreams for our sons -- and he has broken our hearts by using his power and position to endorse as a civil right something that is simply wrong," the Rev. William Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), wrote in a letter to Holder late Thursday.
The coalition, which comprises of leaders of the black church and civil rights leaders who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, decided to seek a meeting with Obama after Holder announced he would speak with 350 black pastors to inform them of their rights in speaking for the president without violating their 501(c)3 status.
Organizations with 501(c)3 status are not allowed to be involved in fundraising, political campaigning or lobbying.
"I would pray you have enough residual respect for this group of clergy, to agree to meet with us and other national leaders to discuss our concerns over your and President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage as a civil right," Owens said in the letter, signed by numerous black pastors. "Some things are bigger than the next election."
A day after voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions by a large margin, Obama announced May 9 that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage. In response to Obama's stance, the CAAP started gathering signatures on a marriage pledge – signed by over 1,000 African-American clergy and Christians thus far.
"If President Obama changed his mind, let him consider changing it again," Owens said.
Referring to a May 17 press conference against Obama's support for gay marriage in Memphis, Tenn., the CAAP president quoted civil rights activist Elder Morris as saying, "We marched so we wouldn't have to sit in the back of the bus, so our children could go to the same schools, so we could go to the zoo every day." Owens then wrote, "That's what it looks and feels like when genuine civil rights are violated. I can promise you personally, as an organizer of the civil rights movement in Nashville, I did not march one inch, one foot, one yard for same-sex marriage."
The coalition's letter also refers to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who laid down the markers for how one can distinguish a genuinely unjust law, a law that violates civil rights: "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."
Owens, the coalition's elder statesman and organizer, earlier said it was time to turn the tide against the "'hijacking' of the civil rights movement."