Supporters of same-sex marriage launched their television campaign today with a pair of commercials that feature African-American pastors.
The ads are designed to counter an organized push by black churches to preach opposition to same-sex marriage from the pulpit this month. Both sides are wooing black voters this year; they made up about 25 percent of the electorate in 2008, and are expected to come out in similar numbers for this year's election.
The Rev. Donte Hickman Sr. of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore stars in one ad, and the other features Rev. Dr. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George's County. Both ministers have previously said they would not perform same-sex weddings in their sanctuaries but believe others should be allowed to do so.
The men offered nearly identical messages. Hickman looks into the camera and says: "I support this law because does not force any church to perform a same-sex marriage if it's against their beliefs."
In the other ad, Coates says: "I would not want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, therefore I should not deny others based upon mine."
During the legislative debate on same-sex marriage, black ministers were extremely influential in stopping the measure. These commercials are intended show voters that the African-American religious community is not monolithic.
Opponents to same-sex marriage started airing their commercials Monday, pushing a controversial message that traditional marriage is better for children.