Snow Job: Religious Right Pastor Has No Truck With D.C. Same-Sex Marriage Law

Over the weekend, Washington was slammed by a treacherous snowstorm that dumped two feet of snow in some areas.

Since I grew up in Ohio and went to college in Syracuse, N.Y., the snow didn't really bother me much. But for others here, the blizzard was a difficult experience.

It apparently was very rough for Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of Maryland, who said the storm affected him much the same way as the passage of the D.C. Marriage Equality and Religious Liberty Act. The law, which grants same-sex couples the right to marry in the nation's capital, was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty the day before the storm hit. It now heads to Congress for final review before it can go into effect. (Due to a quirk in D.C's charter, Congress has the right to review the city's laws.)

Jackson said in a column for The Christian Post yesterday that the new law and the storm both made him feel isolated and helpless. He claimed he could overcome the snowstorm with his four-wheel drive truck, but the city council's decision to legalize same-sex marriage left him feeling at "the mercy of the city government."

Poor Bishop Jackson; he's had a tough week. First, he learns that gay people will now be allowed to marry in D.C. Then, he's punished with a terrible storm. How will he ever make it through these tough times?

To start, maybe it would help if Jackson stopped making ridiculous analogies and being so dramatic. Despite his reach for a clumsy metaphor, the same-sex marriage law and the snowstorm really don't have much in common.

For months, we have been hearing Jackson go on and on opposing the marriage measure. He was joined by several other anti-gay pastors and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, which threatened to stop performing social services if the city passed the law.

These religious leaders claimed a law recognizing same-sex marriage would violate their religious freedom. But nowhere in the law does it require a church or religious institution to perform same-sex marriages. All the law does is provide civil recognition of marriage to same-sex couples. Whether Jackson wants to perform these marriages is completely up to him and his own beliefs.

The bottom line is, whether the city government recognizes same-sex marriages should not affect Jackson whatsoever, nor should Jackson's views on marriage impact the city, either.

Unfortunately, that fact is probably what has Jackson so upset. He knows the council did not listen to him, nor did it fall for the Archdiocese's threats. These religious institutions failed to wield power over the council. Instead, the city government chose to base its decision on the Constitution, not religious doctrine.

We know the council and Mayor Fenty made the right decision. Let's hope that despite Jackson's blizzard of hyperbole, Congress does the same.