A prominent Baltimore-area pastor and Maryland legislator who denounced President Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage and told his congregation he would not vote in the November election, told BlackAmericaWeb.com on Monday that he has modified his position and would continue to support the president.
On Sunday, the Rev. Emmett Burns, pastor and founder of Rising Sun First Baptist Church, publicly withdrew his support for the president, who said in a television interview last week that he believed gay Americans should have the right to marry. Burns, who has been a strong Obama supporter has been equally opposed to same-sex marriage and has been working to get a proposal to ban gay marriage on the November ballot.
“I love the president, but I cannot support what he has done,” Burns said.
According to CNN, a Pew Research Center poll conducted in April found that 49 percent of black Americans opposed legalized same-sex marriage and 39 percent supported it, while 47 percent of whites supported gay marriage and 43 percent opposed it.
Many black pastors have played key roles around the country in the effort to ban same-sex marriage. About 30 states currently have such bans in place.
On Monday, however, Burns told BlackAmericaWeb.com that he decided to modify his stance after some reflection.
“I got a lot of calls from people who said that we should vote because voting rights were denied us for so long,” said Burns, a protégé of the late civil rights icon Medgar Evers.
“I was so disappointed in the president last week that perhaps I spoke more than I really wanted to, but upon reflection, I analyzed my stance. I’m working diligently here in this state to get (an anti-same sex marriage referendum) on the November ballot and I’m confident we will win,” Burns said.
“I’m also confident with my scriptural position and what it says in the Bible. On the other hand, black folks should vote and I encourage them to vote.”
Burns said Monday that even if he had not initially suggested sitting out the November race, “I would not have voted for (presumptive Republican presidential nominee) Mitt Romney under any circumstances.”
He also said that he would continue to support Obama on other issues.
As a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Burns is in Annapolis this week for a special session called by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to pass a budget before a “doomsday” scenario takes effect that would impose draconian cuts on education and other essential services.
Asked if potential problems if a budget failed to be passed or concerns about job creation and other economic issues played into his decision to support Obama after all, Burns said he was persuaded more by his constituents to give his position more reflection.
“I don’t want to dismiss my base,” Burns said. “My base is African-American and a lot of them feel that not voting is not the right thing to do and I want to keep my base intact.”