Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist on same-sex marriage

The Rev. Delman Coates.

Two hours after President Obama last week announced his support for gay marriage, he held a conference call with black pastors, including the Reverend Delman Coates of Prince George’s County.

Coates’ Mount Ennon Baptist is a mega church of 8,000 members. He's long taken the position that gay marriage is a separation of church and state matter.

He says it was very clear to others on the call that the president had arrived at his conclusion about same-sex marriage after much soul searching and introspection.

"It's simple: Do gays and lesbians deserve the same equal rights that the rest of us have and to me the answer to that question is a resounding yes," Coates says.

But would he have gay marriages in his church? No. The practice of his church, he says, is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"There's a difference between civil marriage and religious marriages," he says.

Coates said some of the pastors on the conference call still strongly oppose gay marriage. But there are more important issues.

"The overwhelming response was that we could enthusiastically support the president and his policies," he says. "He took an oath to be the president of the United States, not the pastor of the United States."