Minister at Midnight

Responding to Anthony Evans's anti-gay attack on marriage

Anthony Evans is an anti-gay minister who claims to head a vast network of black churches and sends me frequent updates on his plans. On Jan. 15 I wrote this:

Dear Rev. Evans: I feel conflicted in calling you Reverend, because in your case the honorific conceals a record of promoting intolerance. As a nice white boy I hesitate to write harshly to a black minister, especially on the 83rd birthday of one I revere. You, however, are no Dr. King. I honor both his teaching and his wife Coretta, who was an eloquent supporter of marriage equality, by proudly noting your failure to divide the city and people of Washington.

You boast that God brought down two D.C. politicians who supported marriage equality, as if people are God’s toy soldiers. One of the ex-officials, former mayor Adrian Fenty, was actually defeated by pro-gay challenger Vincent Gray. The other, former Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., took himself down by stealing public funds. Thomas’s anti-gay challenger from 2010, Delano Hunter, now denies ever opposing passage of marriage equality. His lie is a tribute to our success. Many battles lie ahead across America, but D.C. is a solid foothold that you will not loosen.

I would love to know the source of your claim that only nine percent of black churchgoers disagree with you on marriage. The poll numbers I have seen are much closer than that. Most ministers in the city have kept their distance from you, while two hundred endorsed marriage equality.

You and your cohorts tried to provoke an African American backlash by sowing discord in the name of religion. You sought to render black gay couples and their families and affirming clergy invisible. You failed at every turn, including at the voting booth. The new generation is leaving you far behind.

I have recently been advising several students at a public charter high school, all of them African American, who chose marriage equality as their thesis topic. All took the pro-gay side before I arrived; not all are gay. Most of their peers agree with them. Your name hasn’t come up, but your arguments have. Their teacher insists, quite properly, that they examine both sides. They have studied the federal court case Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger), and have looked at its parallels to Loving v. Virginia, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state laws against interracial marriage in 1967.

These students’ views contrast with your image of a monolithic Black Church. They see no difference between Loving and Perry. They can quote your favorite biblical passages, but they can also quote the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment and the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th. I lent them my expertise, but they brought their own gifts of intellectual curiosity and comfort with a diverse society.

I am perplexed by your plan to excommunicate black church members who disagree with you. It reminds me of the parody website LandoverBaptist.org. People don’t require permission to pray. Your stunts have no more chance of turning back the tide of history than speaking in tongues has of being mistaken for anything but gibberish. Kindly spare gay people your professions of love for our souls and try to raise your understanding at least to the level of those 17-year-olds.

Dr. King wrote, “We must use the weapon of love…. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.”

For all your desperate denial and defamation, our love is proving sturdy enough to overcome your increasingly comical ministry of intolerance.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at rrosendall@starpower.net.

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