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African-American Church Leaders Condemn Obama For Gay Marriage Support

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- Just days after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, pastors and priests around Maryland took to their own pulpits with their reaction-- and in some cases-- condemnation of the president.

Derek Valcourt explains the president's comments have folks on both sides of the issue fired up.

Both sides hope the president's position helps sway votes in their favor when the issue hits Maryland's ballot this November.

"I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Obama said.

When Obama announced that his position on same-sex marriage had evolved, it outraged some African-American pastors like Pastor and Del. Emmett Burns.

"He has said to his base, African-Americans, 'I am going against your beliefs and your thoughts,'" Burns said.

He's so opposed to same-sex marriage, he told church members he will no longer support the president and now predicts Obama will lose the election because of it.

He and many other leaders are pouring their energies into gathering the signatures needed to put Maryland's same-sex marriage law on the November ballot.

"I think it might be a call to action for people to really express what they believe," Father Erik Arnold of Our Lady of Perpetual Help said.

In Maryland, some of the strongest opposition to the law has come from the black community-- about 30 percent of the population. Some African-American religious leaders are preaching about it

"God said in every home, there needs to be a representation of his glory through manhood and femininity," Pastor Harry Jackson, Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, said.

"To me, this is an issue of the separation of church and state," Pastor Delman Coates, Enon Baptist Church in Clinton, said.

Coates is one of the few black pastors who supports the current law.

"We should not allow our subjective theological understandings prevent other citizens of this country from having equal rights," he said.

So far, voters in 30 states have rejected same-sex marriage

But equality advocates in Maryland believe the president's comments are a sign of the changing tide.

"The momentum is shifting. I think things are definitely shifting in our direction here," Ezekiel Jackson of Marylanders for Marriage Equality said.

Many African-American pastors say they will still support the president in November even though they may not agree with him on this particular issue.

The president's announcement that he supports same-sex marriage came just one day after voters in North Carolina banned same-sex unions.

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