African-American preacher Keith Ratliff delivered a stern and powerful message to the gay community Tuesday. Speaking during the Family Leader’s LUV rally at the Iowa State Capitol, Ratliff responded to those who equate the push for same sex marriage to the civil rights struggles blacks have endured in America. “What an insult to the civil rights movement,” he said.
Reverend Ratliff was one of five speakers who fired up the crowd of 350 activists. Chants of “Let us vote” rang out several times during the hour long event. The group wants a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act in April 2009. As a result, same sex couples are allowed to marry in the state, although DOMA is still written into the Iowa code.
Several Republican officials were in attendance at Tuesday’s rally, including Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, Senators Randy Feenstra, David Johnson, Bill Anderson, Jim Seymour and Kent Sorenson, and House Representatives Kim Pearson and Dwayne Alons. Sorenson was promoted as one of the speakers, but did not take the podium. Despite their support, and passage of a House bill banning gay marriage, the issue will not come to a vote of the people or in the Iowa Senate because Majority Leader Mike Gronstal refuses to allow it.
Following opening statements from Iowa Family Policy Center chairman Danny Carroll, Reverend Cary Gordon of Sioux City delivered a sermon, with remarks directly pointed at Gronstal. “Mr. Gronstal recently lamented to a reporter that he might not retain his job beneath this gold roof,” Gordon said. “As an agent of the church, I have come to remind Mr. Gronstal that he hath need of repentance. And his greatest concern should not be whether or not his future holds the pleasure of standing beneath this golden roof, but whether or not his future holds the privilege of standing upon heaven’s golden streets.”
Other speakers included Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. Vander Plaats vowed that his group would stay “in this fight for the long term and we are not going away.” Moore became nationally known and respected by evangelicals when he refused to take down a monument of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, despite orders from a federal judge to do so. Moore was removed from the Supreme Court by a unanimous vote of the Alabama Court of Judiciary.
Judge Moore spoke about the irony of being a Supreme Court justice who was forced to step down, speaking to the group that led the movement to force three Iowa Supreme Court justices to step down. “I’m proud to say that the people of Iowa stood up to the justices on the Supreme Court and voted them out of office,” Moore said . “I can tell you, it was the right thing to do. When justices choose to disregard the will of the people and the law they’re sworn to uphold, and allow their own feelings and sentiments to sway their opinion, they no longer deserve to be called judges.”
However, the most impassioned speech and fiery rhetoric came from Reverend Ratliff. He repudiated claims that Martin Luther King Jr. would support same sex marriage if he were alive today. “Reverend Doctor King, Jr. wasn’t taught to subscribe to private interpretations of Burger King-brand religions, meaning ‘Have it your way’ religion,” Ratliff said. “He was brought up in a very strict, Bible believing home.”
“For deviant behavior is not the same thing as being denied the right to vote because of the color of one’s skin. For deviant behavior is not the same thing as being told where one may sit on a bus because of the color of one’s skin. For deviant behavior is not the same thing as being told we won’t serve you here, we won’t allow you to eat here, we won’t allow you to purchase a house here because of the color of one’s skin. Gay community, stop hijacking the civil rights movement, for there is no parallel,” Ratliff said to raucous applause from the crowd.
Danny Carroll concluded the event by encouraging each attendee to enter the Capitol and lobby at least one senator to allow a vote on the gay marriage issue. Despite their efforts, same sex marriage will not come to a vote in the Iowa Senate unless Republicans win the majority, Mike Gronstal is defeated in his own district, or Gronstal is removed from his leadership position and replaced by a Democrat who believes the people of Iowa should be allowed a say on this issue.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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