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Words questioning whether or not African Americans will vote in a significantly different way than whites on the question of marriage equality have been tossed around on this site. The question has come to the forefront this year because popular referendums on marrige equality will be on the ballot this in year four states, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. In one of those states, Maryland, typically a solidly Democratic state, African Americans are approximately 28% of the population and are frequently a key constinuency. African Americans are also among the most religious demographics in the country. According to the Pew Forum, 79% of African Americans said that religions was "very important", compared with 56% of the total population. It is recieved wisdom that religious people are more likely to be opposed to same sex marriage. Consequently, many supporters of marriage equality have expressed pessimism about the referendum in Maryland.

With this in mind, I thought I would alert people on this site to a couple of ads that have been running in Maryland.

Yesterday evening a friend of mine mentioned that an aquaintance of hers, Reverend Donte Hickman of Baltimore's Southern Baptist Church, had made a video in support of Marriage Equality. When I got home, I decided to look it up. It was covered in the Advocate two days ago. It is part of a television ad campaing launched on Wednesday by Equality Maryland.

Text of Video:

Rev. Donte Hickman:

As a Pastor, my support for Question Six is rooted in my belief that the government should treat everyone equally. I wouldn't want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, so I shouldn't deny others based upon mine. It's about fairness. I support this law because does not force any church to perform a same sex marriage if it's against their beliefs. And that's what this is about. Protecting religious freedom and all Marylanders equally under the law. Join me in voting for Question 6.

A similar ad was also produced with Reverend Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George's County.

Text of Video:

Rev. Delman Coates ad:

As a Pastor, my support for Question Six is rooted in my belief that the government should treat everyone equally. I would not want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, therefore I should not deny others based upon mine. It's about fairness. This law does not force any church to perform a same sex marriage if it's against their beliefs. And that's what this is about. Protecting religious freedom and protecting all Marylanders equally under the law. Join me in voting for Question 6.

Pastor Hickman does not marry same sex couples himself, but he is supporting the Civil Marriage Protection act. According to the Huffington Post, Rev. Hickman said, "What I practice in the church does not have to be practiced by the state. We live in a democracy not a theocracy and I think it sets a very dangerous precedent when any religious organization can establish and legislate laws by faith tradition."

Rev. Coates mad a similar distinction between religious beliefs and civil law: "This issue has been mired in a theological argument between conservative Christians and liberal Christians debating bible verses. My view is that it really shouldn't matter whether one is for or against same sex marriage as a religious right. That's not the question. The question is whether citizens of this country deserve to be treated equally under the law."

Anyone who has friends or acquaintances who have been wavering on this issue due to religious beliefs might want to share with them these videos. In one of the comments below the YouTube videos I notice a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that seem especially appropriate in this context:

"In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence´╗┐ of our friends."


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