The decision by President Obama and the NAACP to support same-sex marriage was once again the center of debate as a group of black clergy gathered at the NAACP convention in Houston this past week to protest the organization’s stance.
The group, called the Coalition of African-American Pastors, has been on the forefront of blacks criticizing Obama and the NAACP since Obama first made his annoucement weeks ago. The CAAP is led by Rev. William Owens of Memphis, who has been the most outspoken critic of the decision.
“This is supposed to be an organization for black people who were beaten, who were mistreated and who were enslaved,” Owens told The Huffington Post. “You’re advocating for something that’s not normal, that’s not natural. It’s still out of line, it’s against moral law.”
“Gay marriage is leading us down a bad path,” Owens added. “Our young people are already hurt. They’re already damaged.”
Owens said that the NAACP’s focus should be on issues like unemployment and education. He said his group had started an online petition in support of “traditional marriage” and had thus far gotten 5,000 signatures in the past week.
Owens claimed the initiative to support same-sex marriage wouldn’t have passed if the NAACP had polled its members.
“If they have taken an issue where they asked members, they would have lost,” Owens said. “They had to do it under cloak of darkness.”
NAACP president Ben Jealous said in June that the 64 members of the NAACP board were overwhelmingly in favor of the measure.
“All of the religious leaders on our board, except for one, were for marriage equality,” Jealous said.
Owens said Obama would pay a “high price” for his announcement—one that Owens believes he made to get more campaign contributions from rich Hollywood donors. Asked whether he personally knew any same-sex couples, Owens said he did not. “Not that I would have an aversion to knowing them,” he said. “I just don’t know any.”