ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ/AP)– Another big name gets involved in the same-sex marriage debate that continues to divide religious groups in Maryland.
As political reporter Pat Warren explains, the Rev. Al Sharpton says he supports allowing same-sex couples to marry.
“Adam and Steve, no! Adam and Eve, yes!”
Church groups and other supporters of traditional marriage rallied in Annapolis.
“Our religious liberties are going down the tubes,” one Marylander opposed to same-sex marriage said.
Delegate Emmett Burns is a Baptist minister and vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.
“They don’t know our doctrine, and they don’t know our God,” he said.
But the Reverend Al Sharpton tells Marylanders on YouTube: “Yes, he does.”
“As a Baptist minister, I don’t have the right to impose my beliefs on anyone else,” he said in the YouTube video. “So if committed gay and lesbian couples want to marry, that’s their business.”
The Baptists at the Annapolis rally disagree.
“It is not only bad for religious institutions, it’s bad for every institution in the state of Maryland,” Burns said.
Martin O’Malley promoted same-sex marriage on Sharpton’s MSNBC show Tuesday night.
“This is not a threat to anyone’s belief system,” O’Malley said.
Meanwhile, a letter last year from the then-Archbishop Edwin O’Brien urging O’Malley to refrain from supporting same-sex marriage failed to change his position. O’Malley’s faith is being called into question, as well.
“Tremendously, because he’s a Roman Catholic and he’s not upholding the church’s teachings at all,” said a Maryland resident who is not in favor of the governor’s same-sex marriage bill said.
That obviously depends on whose church is teaching.
There are like-minded Maryland religious leaders standing with the governor as well.
A coalition of gay rights groups, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, released an ad featuring the testimony of clergy members Wednesday afternoon.
Religious leaders are featured in the video arguing that their gay and lesbian members deserve the right to marry and that under Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed law they would not have to officiate same-sex unions.
Several of the clergy featured in the video are black church leaders, a group credited in part with defeating the bill last year.
Religious leaders are expected to testify on behalf of the marriage bill Friday. Lawmakers will also hear testimony that day on legislation to create a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The governor specifies religious liberties in his same-sex marriage bill in an effort to calm the water.
A Senate committee heard testimony on the bill last week and is expected to send it to the Senate floor for a vote.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)