The Two Faces of Maryland’s Anti-Equality Campaign

At the end of a two-hour panel discussion at Manna Bible Baptist Church on October 19, Derek McCoy of the Maryland Marriage Alliance played several of his campaign’s ads urging voters to reject the state’s new marriage equality law. One ad in particular is an example of the friendly face the Maryland Marriage Alliance is trying to put before voters. Baltimore Ravens football player Matt Birk says the campaign has “nothing to do with intolerance, hatred, or bigotry.” Says Birk, “Loving and accepting our gay and lesbian family and friends doesn’t mean we should redefine marriage.”

But there was a very different message coming from the panelists who were hoping to mobilize pastors and other churchgoers into activism against marriage equality. Before Birk’s smiling face came on the screen, LGBT people and their allies had been denounced by panelists as hell-bound tools of Satan who are worthy of death. Pastors who have spoken up in favor of marriage equality were compared to Judas betraying Christ.

Jeremy Hooper posted video of the panel at Good As You.

One of the panelists was the very tightly wound Greg Quinlan of PFOX and the New Jersey Family Policy Council, a self-described “ex-gay” activist. Quinlan answered a question about how to respond to equality advocates’ assertion that loving, committed couples deserve the same rights as others by saying mockingly, “love, love, love, love, love,” and asking, “What’s love got to do with it?”

Pastor Robert Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church quoted from the first chapter of the book of Romans, focusing on a verse that he said he “really wanted to drive home.” In the translation he read, the verse says that those who “practice such things” [gay sex] are worthy of death—and so are those who support them.” So, said Anderson, “if we don’t vote against it, then we are approving these things that are worthy of death.”

Anderson dismissed the notion of fairness with outrageous claims about the impact of the marriage equality law. “It is not fair to open up a back door that will legalize prostitution. It’s not fair to open up a back door that will possibly legalize bestiality. It’s not fair to open up a back door that will possibly lead to polygamy. Once you start messing with what God has established for us, we’re open up a door to redefine incest. Where do you stop?”

Although polls have shown marriage equality leading in the polls, Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) declared, “we will win if the church shows up.”

In case anyone was inclined to believe that the event wasn’t political, or that anti-gay organizing is not tied to a larger anti-Obama effort, organizers kicked off with a video from right-wing pastor E.W. Jackson touting his “Exodus” project and demanding that black Christians leave the “Democrat Party,” which he said is “anti-Christian, anti-church, anti-Bible, anti-life, anti-family, and anti-God.”

The Maryland marriage equality law includes strong provisions protecting religious liberty. But Derek McCoy, chairman of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, dismissed those as “disingenuous.” His group rushed into production an ad featuring the case of Angela McCaskill, a diversity officer at Gallaudet University in the District of Columbia who was suspended when a faculty member complained about her having signed a petition to put the challenge to marriage equality on the ballot. Marriage equality advocates in Maryland have come to her defense, something which is not noted in McCoy’s new ad, which ends, “We’re all at risk under Question 6.”