Same-sex marriage supporters are demanding an apology after a speaker at a panel discussion by opponents of the law Friday said such unions were acts “worthy of death.”
The Rev. Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, was one of four panelists speaking against Maryland’s same-sex marriage law at Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore. Anderson’s role in the discussion was to provide a biblical basis for opposing the law.
Video of the event shows that after citing a verse from the book of Romans, which refers to homosexuals as “deserving of death,” Anderson closed his Bible and addressed the crowd. “If we don’t vote against this, then we are approving these things that are worthy of death,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
Derek McCoy, chairman of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which led the petition drive to put the new law before voters and is leading the media campaign to defeat it at the ballot, was sitting next to Anderson. McCoy did not respond to or applaud Anderson’s statement.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group leading the campaign to uphold the law at the ballot Nov. 6, blasted both Anderson’s comments and McCoy’s silence Tuesday.
“The kind of intolerance displayed by opponents paints a clear contrast of what’s at stake in this campaign,” Sultan Shakir, the group’s political director, said in a statement. “Such rancid comments have absolutely no place in this debate.
“We demand the host of the event, Derek McCoy, disavow and apologize for his panel's viciously anti-gay words.”
Neither McCoy nor Anderson could immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Deana Bass, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said Anderson’s comments were being taken out of context and that they were in no way a suggestion that gays and lesbians should be harmed.
“What he was saying was that men and women of faith should stand up for what they believe in and vote against Question 6,” Bass said.
Any attempt to paint McCoy or the alliance as a group that believes gays should be harmed was a distraction, Bass said. The real issue was that people who were expressing their faith were under attack and being called bigots, she said.