Wed­ded to tra­di­tional ideas

Mis­sis­sippi ac­tivist, shaped by her di­vorced mom, de­cries gay mar­riage

Los Angeles Times - - NEWS - By Tina Sus­man

TU­PELO, Miss. — In a state where 86% of vot­ers cast bal­lots for a ban on gay wed­dings in 2004, and where op­po­si­tion is fierce to last week’s Supreme Court rul­ing declar­ing same- sex mar­riage a con­sti­tu­tional right, Meeke Ad­di­son stands out from the fire-and- brim­stone preach­ers and politi­cians usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the fight against gay mar­riage.

Her view of mar­riage came from di­vorce. It was her mother’s di­vorce, and ac­cord­ing to fam­ily lore, it came af­ter Ad­di­son’s fa­ther handed his wife a pearl­han­dled pis­tol, told her to use it on any­one who tried to break into their apart­ment, and walked out.

De­spite be­ing left with five chil­dren to raise, Ad­di­son said, her mother trum­peted the value of mar­riage and in­stilled in her a pas­sion for the in­sti­tu­tion that has turned Ad­di­son into one of Mis­sis­sippi’s most vo­cal op­po­nents of same- sex mar­riage.

Ad­di­son is a 36- year- old black woman. She is not a preacher or a politi­cian. Her views are as hard- line as theirs, and her words can be as harsh, but her voice is honey smooth, whether she is speak­ing on her weekday ra­dio show, “Air­ing the Ad­dis­ons,” on a Chris­tian­based net­work, or speak­ing on be­half of the Amer­i­can Fam­ily Assn., a na­tional Chris­tian group based in Tu­pelo.

One of the things that riles Ad­di­son most about the same- sex mar­riage is­sue, which peaked in Mis­sis­sippi on Fri­day when the state at­tor­ney gen­eral di­rected court clerks to re­frain from is­su­ing mar­riage li- censes to gay cou­ples, is the idea that same- sex mar­riage is a civil right.

“I’m a black woman, so when I think of a civil right and the fight for free­dom, it kind of strikes a chord for me that your sex­ual pref­er­ence is not equal to the color of my skin, an im­mutable char­ac­ter­is­tic,” Ad­di­son said in an in­ter­view Satur­day, a day af­ter the Supreme Court’s rul­ing. “It’s of­fen­sive, just that what you want to do in your bed­room is the same thing as the color of my skin and who I am.”

Ad­di­son does not claim to speak for black peo­ple in gen­eral, but she said the color of her skin gives her an in­sight into an is­sue that has been noted in opin­ion polls on same- sex mar­riage.

Over­all, public sup­port for it has risen in the United States, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, but blacks lag con­sid­er­ably be­hind whites in back­ing the right of gays and les­bians to wed.

A poll this month showed that 59% of whites and 41% of blacks fa­vored same- sex mar­riage. In 2001, the races were roughly equal in their sup­port, with whites at 34% and blacks at 32%.

Ad­di­son sees no con­tra­dic­tion in the idea of a young black woman be­ing so solidly in sync with right- wing con­ser­va­tives on one of the coun­try’s most di­vi­sive so­cial is­sues. Like most con­ser­va­tives, Ad­di­son is deeply and proudly re­li­gious, and she traces her op­po­si­tion to be­ing brought up in a re­li­gious house­hold and study­ing the Bi­ble as a teenager in New Or­leans.

“When you come across pas­sages that con­demn ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, you don’t dis­pute that,” said Ad­di­son, who re­jects the idea that a true Chris­tian who lives ac­cord­ing to the Scrip­tures can be gay. “It is never sup­ported bi­b­li­cally, so for a Chris­tian to say they are a Chris­tian and they are also ho­mo­sex­ual … if you go ac­cord­ing to Scrip­tures, they’re mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.”

In her blue­jeans and lacy top, and large gold crosses adorn­ing her ears, with a ready smile and calm de­meanor, Ad­di­son did not look like the per­son who ear­lier in the week had warned lis­ten­ers of the “de­monic” and “evil” threat fac­ing mar­riage and of the de­viant path that mar­riage could take if ho­mo­sex­u­als, as she refers to gays, were al­lowed to wed.

Three­somes and four­somes even could de­mand to be wed if they loved one another, Ad­di­son said.

“We could be en­ter­ing a time where the fire could be turned up un­der the feet of Chris­tians, and I don’t mean that in a good way,” Ad­di­son told lis­ten­ers on one of her re­cent shows as she awaited the Supreme Court de­ci­sion.

When the rul­ing came, Ad­di­son said, she was not en­tirely sur­prised be­cause of what she calls a na­tional trend to un­der­mine Chris­tian­ity and sell the coun­try on the idea that what used to be al­ter­na­tive lifestyles now are the norm.

For Ad­di­son, a mar­ried mother of four chil­dren ages 1 to 8, her vi­sion of fam­ily gelled while grow­ing up in New Or­leans, where her mother raised her chil­dren alone af­ter their fa­ther left. De­spite the hard­ship, Ad­di­son said, her mother taught her that mar­riage is an hon­or­able in­sti­tu­tion. She also told her chil­dren that each was con­ceived af­ter their par­ents were mar­ried, Ad­di­son said.

“She al­ways wanted us to know that, and that has shaped my world view: that mar­riage is im­por­tant. That the struc­ture of fam­ily is im­por­tant and we don’t get to change that just be­cause we want to,” she said.

If there is one thing Ad­di­son is thank­ful for in the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion, it is that the rul­ing does not com­pel re­li­gious lead­ers to per­form same- sex mar­riages.

Only the fu­ture will tell whether busi­nesses such as florists and cater­ers will be legally re­quired to serve same- sex cou­ples plan­ning wed­dings, and that is some­thing that con­cerns Ad­di­son and that she says could force Chris­tians to choose be­tween keep­ing their jobs or ad­her­ing to their belief sys­tem.

“I think each case will present an op­por­tu­nity for the Chris­tians to learn whether or not they’re go­ing to re­ally be able to live ac­cord­ing to their con­vic­tions,” Ad­di­son said. “I think we’re go­ing to have to wait and see how that plays out.” tina. sus­man@ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ ti­nasus­man

Ro­ge­lio V. So­lis As­so­ci­ated Press

EN­GAGED COU­PLE Karen Welch, left, and Brit­tany Ray­mond protest out­side a court­house in Jack­son, Miss., on Fri­day af­ter a state off icial or­dered a de­lay in is­su­ing mar­riage li­censes to gays and les­bians.

Ur­ban Fam­ily Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

MEEKE AD­DI­SON says “it’s of­fen­sive” to sug­gest same- sex mar­riage is a civil right.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.