A Brief Lesson in Every-Day Logic with Huge Applications
to Every-Day Expressions of Love

Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy offered the following thoughts after the Southern Baptist Convention voted to say that gay rights are not civil rights. Rev. Gaddy is himself a Baptist minister and was a member of the SBC’s executive committee in the early 1980s.  He is the author of Same-Gender Marriage and Religious Freedom: A Call to Quiet Conversations and Public Debates.

Southern Baptists have voted that gay rights are not civil rights.
        But a vote—even a majority vote—does not make a truth.
As God encouraged, let us reason together.
        After all, it is not a sin to think.
        Jesus instructed us to love God with our minds.

In the United States, marriage is a legal issue.

Without a marriage license issued by the state, no religious institution can perform a marriage recognized by the state.

The same is true for a religious leader unwilling to officiate a marriage as a representative of the state.

All residents of the United States have a right to get married
        –even imprisoned criminals.
When any resident of the United States is refused a right that belongs to all,
        that is a violation of that resident’s civil rights.

No adjective describing the person, such as gay or straight, provides an exemption from that reality.

The denial of marriage to residents of the United States is a violation of those citizens’ civil rights.

Southern Baptists, like all people, have a right to oppose gay marriage, but they do not have a right to make it illegal to any United States citizen—gay or straight, man or woman, divorced or never married.

Thinking clearly and recognizing truth can be great contributors to thoughts and practices that demonstrate the kind of inclusive love commended and modeled by the love of God.

                Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
                President, Interfaith Alliance
                Former Southern Baptist Leader

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.