On May 14, 2014, with the battle cry “the fight is on,” a coalition of over 100 Black pastors from Detroit, OutstateMichigan, and Ohio representing several hundred additional pastors,celebrated the amicus brief which was filed by the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) on their behalf challenging the recent Federal District Court decision overturning Michigan’s 2004 constitutional amendment. Michigan’s Marriage Amendment (MMA) preserves traditional marriage between one man and one woman.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed the amicus brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Attorney General Schuette’s appeal of the District Court’s decision.
Shortly after the decision overturning the Michigan Marriage Amendment, Minister Stacy Swimp contacted TMLC on behalf of the Coalition of Black Pastors asking whether the Law Center would be willing to file a brief on their behalf. Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, replied that it would be their privilege. A subsequent meeting with several Pastors, Thompson and Erin Mersino of the Law Center, was held to discuss the ruling and the Pastors’ specific objections so that the brief would reflect their objections within a legal context in order to aid the appellate judges.
Erin Mersino, the principal drafter of the amicus brief, assisted by Lansing attorneys William Wagner and John S. Kane, captured the Pastors’ objections: the comparison drawn by courts and by society that the homosexual push to legalize their marriages is on par with the civil right movement of Black Americans is false; marriage between one man and one women is Biblically based and a part of America’s Judeo-Christian moralityand tradition, and the legal precedent used to overturn the MMA, which was approved by over 2.7 million voters, was unsound.
Said Mersino: “It has been an honor working with the coalition of pastors closely to ensure that their unique voice is heard. The coalition was upset with the notion that the voice of 2.7 million Michigan voters could be silenced by the opinion of one federal court judge. The court drew upon legal precedent which rightfully allowed interracial couples to marry, inherently raising similarities between racial equality and same-sex marriage. The coalition has made clear that they believe this comparison is offensive. ”
Minister Swimp stated: “We want to make a statement to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that the people of the state of Michigan, particularly Black Pastorsand Christians, continue to stand by the Marriage Protection Act.”
According to Minister Swimp,the comparison of the push for the redefinition of marriage to the Black Civil Rights struggles is “intellectually empty, dishonest, and manufactured.”
Excerpts from the Law Center’s Brief:
*** “Comparing the dilemmas of same-sex couples to the centuries of discrimination faced by Black Americans is a distortion of our country’s cultural and legal history. The disgraces and unspeakable privations in our nation’s history pertaining to the civil rights of Black Americans are unmatched. No other class of individuals, including individuals who are same-sex attracted, have ever been enslaved, or lawfully viewed not as human, but as property. Same-sex attracted individuals have never lawfully been forced to attend different schools, walk on separate public sidewalks, sit at the back of the bus, drink out of separate drinking fountains, denied their right to assemble, or denied their voting rights. Id. The legal history of these disparate classifications, i.e., immutable racial discrimination and same-sex attraction, is incongruent.”
*** When the lower court said it was rejecting morality as a basis for Michigan’s codification of its traditional marriage rule, it was not being entirely forthright. . . .What it actually did was to supplant the tried and true morality of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which our country was founded with the trendy, relativist morality of political correctness.”
*** “There is no surer way to destroy an institution like marriage than to destroy its meaning. If “marriage” means whatever one judge wants it to mean, it means nothing. If it has no fixed meaning, it is merely a vessel for a judge’s will. It is used as a subterfuge for judicial legislation.”
Pastor James Crowder, president of the Westside Minister Alliance, said, “Judge Friedman is sanctioning the staging of a false story. On stage are many actors who pretend that redefining traditional marriage is as valid as Blacks fighting against the carnage of chattel slavery and the humiliation of Jim Crow. Never have I been so insulted. The curtain must be pulled down on this play of disinformation.”