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 celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.