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Marriage Equality Debate Divides Opinion Among Black Christians

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Pressure is building to legalize same sex marriage in Illinois reports CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

Going into tomorrow’s veto session, the votes are split with at least part of the balance of power in the Black Caucus, which powerful ministers are trying to influence with their public statements and paid commercials.

“The Christian community has not been heard,” said Bishop Larry Trotter.

Bishop Trotter says the definition of marriage is right there in the Bible in the Book of Genesis.

“For this cause shall a man leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife.”

The Reverend Richard Tolliver points to the Holiness Code in Leviticus.

“Children who disobey parents are to be put to death. Adulterers are to be put to death. There are many prohibitions in there that these people who oppose same sex marriage based on the Bible ignore,” said Tolliver.

Kevin James and Ryan Green are marriage equality supporters; Both are black, gay and Christian. Kevin James is a sociologist and Ryan Green is a lawyer.

“The Black Church traditionally has always been involved in social justice,” said James.

They see this issue, as others which they’ve faced, and don’t understand why ministers like Trotter don’t support them.

“We believe that marriage is between man and woman, not between man and man and woman and woman,” said Trotter.

And that, Ryan Green says, could be the compromise.

“The ministers in churches who oppose marriage equality here in Illinois won’t be forced to perform marriages,” said Green.

“I just still believe that we’re gonna have enough votes to win this thing,” said Trotter.

James says if it is not passed in Illinois, they will go to another state.

“Marriage is something we’re set on doing to begin to build our family,” said Kevin James.

A poll by the Gay and Lesbian newspaper Windy City Times reports that even if all the undecided voters end up voting for the bill, it still falls short of the 72 votes needed during the veto session. After the first of the year, it needs just 60 votes to pass and stands a much better chance.