D.C.'s Anti-Gay-Marriage Crusader Ponders This Week's Loss

The pastor who led the unsuccessful fight against a gay marriage bill says he has learned lessons.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

I asked the Rev. Harry Jackson, the Maryland megachurch pastor who led the unsuccessful effort to prevent legalized gay marriage in Washington, what lessons Christian conservatives took from this week's loss. (The D.C. council overwhelmingly approved a gay marriage bill Tuesday.) Jackson said his movement needed to get more politically sophisticated to complement its grass-roots organizing success. Jackson, who is black, also spoke to the racial politics surrounding D.C.'s move toward legalizing gay marriage—and vowed political revenge:

We're going to have to start earlier and take straw polls earlier. Our opposition had been working with these [council members] for five years. They'd invested time and money, and, to their credit, my opposition applied extreme political pressure on 30 or 40 people in the city, in the mayor's office and the city council.

But they have not changed ordinary people's opinions. It's a faux change. For instance, they created a gay organization of clergy. Our side has done the opposite, mobilizing a grass-roots effort with 1,200 churches in D.C.

In future races, religious people are going to start going after people's political careers. In D.C., some very vulnerable black councilmen went along with the city council, and some of these guys will not be sitting in those chairs in 2010 elections. Many in our coalition are wising up, looking for candidates. Political action committees are going to be formed. You're going to see a bloodletting that is going to mark a new style of engagement for people who are against same-sex marriage.