When Southern Baptists reaffirmed their hostility to equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans this week in New Orleans, a leading anti-gay voice there was a Texas pastor who has promoted Texas Gov. Rick Perry to conservative evangelicals in the past.
Southern Baptists meeting at their denomination’s annual convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution attacking marriage equality:
The resolution acknowledges that gays and lesbians sometimes experience “unique struggles” but declares that they lack the “distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections.”
“It is regrettable that homosexual rights activists and those who are promoting the recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ have misappropriated the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement,” the resolution states.
One of the authors of the resolution was the Rev. Dwight McKissic, an African-American pastor from Arlington, Texas:
“It’s important to sound the alarm again, because the culture is changing,” he said in an interview after the vote.
McKissic, who is black, said it was “an unfair comparison” for gays to equate same-sex marriage with civil rights because there is not incontrovertible scientific evidence that homosexuality is an innate characteristic, like skin color.
“They’re equating their sin with my skin,” he said.
McKissic has a long history of using incendiary anti-gay rhetoric. For example, speaking in a 2005 at a Texas Restoration Project event promoting Gov. Perry to hundreds of conservative evangelical ministers, McKissic suggested that God might have sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans because of tolerance of homosexuality there:
“I’m raising the question,” Dwight McKissic, senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, said last week at meetings of the Texas Restoration Project, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “At some point, God will hold us accountable for our sins.”
“They have devil worship. They advertise ‘Sin City’ tours. They celebrate Southern decadence. Girls go wild in New Orleans,” said McKissic, a founder of the “Not on My Watch” coalition against gay marriage. “Sometimes God does not speak through natural phenomena. This may have nothing to do with God being offended by homosexuality. But possibly it does.”
Gov. Perry didn’t object to McKissic’s comments at the Texas Restoration Project event. A spokesman later said the governor didn’t agree with the comments but then suggested that they might be true:
“The governor does not agree with that,” gubernatorial spokesman Robert Black told the Austin newspaper on Friday. “But far be it for the governor to try to divine the will of the Almighty. Americans of all faiths need to come together at this point in time to help the victims of this tragedy.”
Black himself has a long history of anti-gay comments. He has compared gay rights groups to the Ku Klux Klan and gay people generally to pedophiles.