Clergy responds to LGBT marriage equality push - - Jackson, MS

Clergy responds to LGBT marriage equality push

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - A Human Rights Campaign is underway to sway the faith based community to accept LGBT equality and same sex marriage.

One Jackson minister and a legal expert talks about what marriage equality will mean for churches.

As more same sex couples fight for the recognition of their unions a push is underway for acceptance by churches.

Emmanuel Baptist Church Pastor Jesse Horton Senior said it will be a hard sell in the faith community which stands on Bible teachings.

"God never permitted in his word for us to marry the same sex," said Pastor Jesse Horton.

The 41 year member of the clergy leads a 600 member congregation that three years ago changed its constitution and bylaws to prevent same sex marriage.

"I believe every person ought to be treated equally, but when it comes to biblical principles all of us have to take a stand on what the Bible teaches and I'm not against homosexuals. I'm against the sin," added the 66 year old minister, husband and father of five children.

According to Mississippi Law professor Matt Steffey, church principles and sacraments are protected under the free exercise clause in the First Amendment of the constitution.

"What this means for the church is it's up to the church to decide," said Steffey.

He sites the Catholic church which prevents people who are divorced from being married in the church.

"So if they have a religious objection to marrying gay or lesbian couples, they simply don't have to which is why the campaign is trying to persuade the faith community to embrace gay and lesbian marriage because that's the only way it will happen," said the legal expert.

The State of Mississippi defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, and same sex marriages outside the state are not recognized.

Even if it becomes the law of the land, the faith based community can not be forced to perform the ceremonies.

The Mississippi's first marriage equality lawsuit will be heard in Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
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