Years before the nation’s capital legalized same-sex marriage in March, one church in Washington, D.C., opened its doors to gay couples as part of its mission to establish an “inclusive body of Biblical believers.”
Pastors Christine and Dennis Wiley performed a 2007 commitment ceremony at their altar. That action split the historically black church, prompting half of the congregation to leave.
Yvonne Moore not only left Covenant Baptist, where she had worshipped for nearly 40 years: she filed a lawsuit for her weekly tithes because, as she said, “They didn’t respect the members enough to listen to us.”
Moore said she attended the 2007 commitment ceremony and found it “totally disgusting.”
“I don’t believe in that, I’m southern Baptist,” Moore told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “The bible speaks against that. You cannot take that in the church.”
So she sued the church for a portion of the estimated $250,000 that she estimates she had paid in weekly donations over the past 37 years.
Read how race and ethnicity can be a challenge to gay acceptance
Moore’s now former pastors believe that gay rights are a natural extension of the black Civil Rights movement.
“I don’t think we as a people have a lock on civil rights,” Pastor Dennis Wiley said.
The struggle for civil rights is something that Moore can relate to: Growing up in Florida, she said she was one of the first blacks to eat at a lunch counter in her hometown.
But she is still on the fence about comparing her situation, as an African-American, to that of the gay community. She said Dennis Wiley asked her to consider the situation of her friend, who is gay.
“Dennis asked me … ‘How do you feel the way you were treated and just think about the way he was treated.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, OK,'” Moore said.
She later dropped her lawsuit, but has not returned to the church.
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