GARLAND—In a form letter response to a prominent Garland pastor, President Obama boasts of his administration’s work to “level the playing field for LGBT people and communities” and its passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
“And because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples,” the president wrote in response to a June letter sent to the White House from Tony Mathews, pastor of North Garland Baptist Fellowship, decrying the administration’s support for same-sex marriage.
Dated Aug. 7, the White House letter to Mathews, also vice president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, vows to further advance the rights of homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people through the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), domestic partners and employment non-discrimination laws, securing of full adoption rights, and “supporting environments in school.”
“Because we understand that LGBT rights are human rights, we continue to engage with the international community in promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT persons around the world. Because we repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans can serve their country openly, honestly, and without fear of losing their jobs because of whom they love. And because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
The letter cited three websites for further information on its policies—WhiteHouse.gov/ItGetsBetter, StopBullying.gov and WhiteHouse.gov/lgbt.
“Though I’m grateful for hearing back from the President, his response is still extremely underwhelming,” Mathews wrote in an email to the TEXAN. “This cannot, however, deter us from praying for (and doing our best to implement) God’s agenda for families worldwide.”
The hate crimes legislation is named for Shepard, a homosexual whose 1998 murder became a rallying point for gay activists, and Byrd, a black man whose brutalized body was found near Jasper, Texas after being dragged to death by three white men, two of whom were professing white supremacists, also in 1998.
In his letter to Obama, which was copied to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Mathews said framing the issue of same-sex marriage in the context of the civil-rights era struggles of African Americans disregards the moral and biblical foundation on which they made their case.
“Mr. President, endorsement of same-sex marriage ‘is not’ the Christian thing to do … God does not welcome attempts to rewrite what’s in His book. Mr. President, you are wrong on this issue.”
Equating same-sex marriage to 20th-century civil rights struggles is “deeply disturbing” to many African Americans, Mathews wrote.
The letter from the White House arrived the same week the SBTC Executive Board, at the behest of SBTC President Terry Turner, passed a resolution affirming the biblical definition of marriage and calling on the White House to reverse course. The resolution is accessible at sbtexas.com/marriagepetition. As of Aug. 24, more than 1,900 people had signed on to the document.