Al Sharpton, ministers support Maryland gay marriage

Rev. Amos Brown of San Francisco, center, Rev. Delman Coates of Clinton, Md., left, and Rev. Al Sharpton at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Black clergy members who support same-sex marriage say they want to dispel the myth that all African-American ministers are against it.

About a dozen clergy members joined the Rev. Al Sharpton on Friday at a news conference in Washington to express support for a November referendum in Maryland to allow same-sex marriage.

"To take a position to limit the civil rights of anyone is to take a position to limit the civil rights of everyone," Sharpton said.

The Rev. Delman Coates, who is senior pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., says people don't have the right to impose personal religious beliefs on others in matters of public policy.

Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, says theological debates should take place in churches, not in government.

Maine and Washington also are deciding whether same-sex marriage should be legal. Minnesota is voting on a constitutional ban.

Across town in Crystal City, the Coalition of African American Pastors or CAAP, held its own press conference with several of the black ministers traveling from Tennessee. The group says it stands for what the bible says. Founder Reverend William Owens said President Obama "sold us out."

"All of who follow him who are weak and who have non-biblical principles, I don't care if they have reverend in front of their name, to lead a society downhill for money is sinful and it's wrong and that's what they are doing,” he says. “It's all about money."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.