Well, someone at the DNC didn’t do their due diligence. The new Democratic party faith outreach director, Dr. Derrick Harkins of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC, recently told an interviewer “no no no” when asked about his views on gay marriage. Some folks were pretty upset that the Democrats would hire someone who doesn’t support our full and equal status as human beings.
But then a funny thing happened. A pro- marriage equality pledge surfaced from two years ago in which the same Dr. Derrick Harkins averred his full throated support for gay marriage.
First, this past June to Sarah Posner:
Q: So you’re not a supporter of same-sex marriage yourself?
A: No, no, no. But again, I’m not a bomb-thrower in terms of saying things that will get a rise out of a crowd because I just don’t think that’s, again, intellectually honest.
Now here is the pledge that Dr. Harkins signed two years ago – I’ve bolded the salient parts:
Declaration of Religious Support for Marriage Equality
We are District of Columbia clergy and religious leaders of many faiths, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We represent religious institutions in every ward in the District. We have worked together over many years for peace and justice and now join our voices again to speak a faithful word for freedom and equality.
We declare that our faith calls us to affirm marriage equality for loving same-sex couples.
Our religious traditions and scriptures teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is our human capacity to love one another. The ability of two people to enter into relationships and form families of love and care is one expression of this gift. It is holy and good. We therefore affirm the right of loving same-gender couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with loving heterosexual couples.
We recognize that there are principled differences on this issue within the religious community. We affirm that the state should not require any religious group to officiate at, or bless, same-gender marriages. However, the state also should not favor the convictions of one religious group over another by denying individuals their fundamental civil right to marry whom they love.
Recognizing that there is heartfelt disagreement on this issue, we call on all people of the District of Columbia to engage in a respectful and loving dialogue on marriage equality. As religious leaders, we commit ourselves to such a dialogue and encourage our colleagues on all sides of this issue to do the same.
God is love and love is for everyone. In this spirit we raise our voices in the struggle for the right and freedom to marry.
The dude is for gay marriage.
So it’s odd that the DNC today put out a statement from new DNC gay liaison, and former Obama White House gay liaison, Brian Bond claiming that Harkins is NOT for marriage equality, when he said he was just two years ago. The snippet below is part of a longer email the chair of the DNC LGBT Caucus Rick Stafford sent out earlier today (Friday).
“Rev. Harkins is a progressive faith leader who supports the right of same-sex couples to equal benefits and equal protection under the law. I have spoken at length to Rev. Harkins on this issue, and like many Americans who are continuing to develop their views on this subject, he currently supports civil unions for LGBT couples. However, he has also said ‘traditional marriage’ does not have a clear definition, and he is firmly committed to what he calls ‘the important, productive conversation that is underway’ regarding the institution of marriage and the evolving perspectives on this subject.”
To mischaracterize Rev. Harkins’ views and demonize him as a roadblock to equality for LGBT Americans is not helpful to the ongoing effort of building coalitions in our journey to full equality. The crux of Rev. Harkins’ political perspective is a fundamental belief in the equal and inherent value of people of all identities and backgrounds – that is exactly why the DNC has tapped him to lead our party’s faith outreach program. And Rev. Harkins has said that inclusion of LGBT faith leaders will be an important part of those efforts.
Do I wish Rev. Harkins was on the record as an active supporter of same-sex marriage? Of course I do – just like I wish 100% of the American public was in favor of same-sex marriage, including my President.
Your wish is my command. He is on the record in support of same-sex marriage, and then for some reason changed his mind a few months before getting the DNC job. The only person mischaracterizing Rev. Harkins’ views is the DNC and Rev. Harkin himself.
Now I don’t know what to believe. Rev. Harkins was a gay-friendly activist two years ago, signing public pledges supporting same-sex marriage, but this year he claims that he’s strongly against gay marriage (so against it that one “no” didn’t suffice), and at the same time the DNC reaffirms his anti- marriage equality bona fides. Except that he’s not anti- marriage equality at all, he’s all for it.
I’m hoping he wasn’t asked to change this “declaration” of his “faith” simply because his new boss disagrees with him.