Rev. William Owens on Opposing President Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Stance

Reverend William Owens

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sex marriage. If the numbers are saying if President Obama does not have the overwhelming support of Black people again like he did in 2008, he will lose his presidency to a candidate who...will create actual turmoil in the lives of actual Black people, in terms of his policies around health care, education, access to social services...you can go every day of your life without getting 'gay married,' you can go everyday of your life without having an abortion, if you so choose. However, you need homes, you need food, you need education, you need to be not caught up in a system of mass incarceration. Do you not think that it is dangerous to be so adamant about this one issue that the president supports? Why you are not encouraging people to register to vote, why not support him?

RO: First of all, we asked to speak with the president in private. We did the same thing for President Bush, we did the same thing for the governor of Nevada when I lived in Nevada, we did the same thing in Memphis...had the president talked to us in private, we never would have gone public...if you or your staff will even meet with and we can share what we feel, we would have left with a handshake...[President Obama] didn’t respect us enough to even answer us

JL: There is nothing that I can imagine that President Obama can say to you to change your feelings on same sex marriage and likely vice versa. If he brought you and a group of people that feel the same way that you do into a meeting and said 'I’m here to let you know how I feel and why I will fight tooth and nail to the day that I die to support same sex marriage,' how---

RO: You didn’t hear me. The truth of it is we asked to speak to [Attorney General] Mr. Holder. We didn’t even bother the president at first, we asked to have a dialogue with him.

JL:  Why Eric Holder?

RO: [Obama] didn’t think enough [of us] to have a dialogue with us [now,] when he wanted a dialogue when he first ran for office. He was accessible then, if he is [not willing] to have a dialogue now, why should we respect him and not let him know that we are here and we are going to heard one way or another?

JL: [Regarding Obama,] it just seems that there is a unique level of expectations of this man--- I don’t know if it’s because he’s African American, I don’t know if it’s because he is Christian-identified, as all our presidents have been--- that he has done some sort of disservice to the Black community by supporting same sex marriage...it just seems like when Black people have so many other things at stake. Where is the outrage over mass incarceration? Where is the outrage over lack of access to preventative health care methods for women? There wasn’t this large outcry coming from the Black church about any of those things, about HIV/AIDS, the destruction of our schools. There’s been activism, there’s been work done, but with this single issue, Obama has done some sort of grand disservice?:

RO: I have worked aggressively hard for the education of our young people. Let me tell you something, I’ve picked cotton, I grew up so poor [yet] I earned my way my way, I earned three university degrees...I know what it means to have him in the White House. I marched that he could go to the White House, I laid my life on the line in the Civil Rights Movement...that he thinks that he can ignore us and not talk to us, but he talked to the Latinos, he talks to the gays...If he thinks he can ignore us and take our vote for granted, take the leaders for granted, we will show him. I don’t care if he is Black, White, yellow, green or red, but we will show him.

JL: Black people are literally on fire right now. You have people--- teenagers, kids---dying in Chicago. Getting shot 10, 12, 30 in a night and you're sending out daily press releases about same sex marriage. Is this the greatest challenge of your generation or my generation? is this the biggest fight that we have in the middle of an election season? Do we have that much to lose from gay people getting married?

RO: I think we do. First of all, the Black family has been destroyed. When I grew up there were more Black men going to college, now there are more Black men going to prison. Something is wrong.

JL: What does that have to do with homosexuality? There are Black men who have went to college and graduate and got married and are gay and also Black men who