Pastor Steve Riggle continues to be obsessed with gays and lesbians.
Taking advantage of his mega-church pulpit on Sunday morning, Pastor Steve Riggle of Houston’s Grace Community Church advanced his crusade against Mayor Annise Parker’s public support for same-sex marriage by urging Houston’s lesbian mayor to either stand up for traditional marriage “or do the honorable thing and step down.”
Speaking at the congregation’s 10 a.m. service, Riggle promised some 3,000 worshippers “the shortest sermon that has ever been preached in this congregation.” After reading 25 Bible versions of the Genesis account of marriage as a man “leaving his father and mother and being joined to his wife,” Riggle spent the next 50 minutes reading a letter he wrote to Parker last week, summarizing her response and then reading a new letter he has written to the mayor.
The Bible has long been used to justify all kinds of reprehensible behavior. One must also be deeply skeptical of using isolated verses to claim that certain things are required or forbidden, as President Bartlett once reminded us:
But let’s be clear, this isn’t about the Bible, it’s about politics. The Bible is merely a convenient tool for achieving a political end. PDiddie is right – Riggle is basically telling the Mayor to shut up, something which he most definitely does not have the right to do. Disagree with her, criticize her, support an opponent against her, all that is fine. Telling her to shut up and remember her place, that’t not fine at all.
Delivering his marriage jeremiad in calm, measured tones, Riggle accused the mayor of violating both the Texas and U.S. constitutions she had sworn to uphold. He noted that in 2005, Texans approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage solely as between one man and one woman. He noted that 76 percent of those voting approved the amendment, including 72 percent in Harris County.
“Respectfully, if you cannot uphold the Texas Constitution, then you should do the honorable thing and step down,” Riggle said. His congregation responded with the first of numerous ovations.
“When you speak for us as the mayor of Houston, when the people of Houston have overwhelmingly expressed their will and you speak about this issue without their expressed will, I do have a problem with that,” he said.
Putting aside the fact that the US Constitution is silent on the issue of marriage, how exactly is Mayor Parker violating anything but Riggle’s own peculiar sense of propriety? Again, it’s not like she’s staged a coup of the County Clerk’s office and is handing out rogue marriage licenses. I’m pretty sure that every Mayor Houston has ever had has believed things that are counter to public opinion. Hell, Parker has frequently stated her dislike of term limits. Does that mean she’s in violation of the city’s charter?
Look, I actually have a bit of sympathy for where Riggle is coming from. His argument is that Parker, as Mayor of Houston, is speaking for all of Houston on this issue, on which he and many others clearly disagree. I get that, and I understand it. I’ve been in that position as well. But look at what Mayor Parker said at the time she joined the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry effort:
Despite personal support for awarding same-sex couples the legal rights of married heterosexual couples, Parker said it was not her role to fight for an amendment to the Texas Constitution to override the state’s defense of marriage act or to win a ballot referendum to overturn it.
Nor was it her role to push to overturn the city’s voter-approved charter amendment banning same-sex couple benefits for city workers.
Those changes “are going to have to be something that is important to the citizens of Texas and the citizens of Houston who want to step up,” said Parker. “It needs to come from the community.”
That sure sounds to me like she’s speaking for herself. I don’t have any quarrel with Riggle disagreeing with the Mayor on this – well, other than the fact that his position is immoral and untenable – but he’s taking it way beyond that point. I have a big problem with that.
He said that he was not anti-gay nor a “gay-hater,” noting that he had prayed with gay people dying of AIDS. “Just because I disagree with the life style choices that people make does not mean that I hate the people who make those choices,” Riggle said, as his listeners responded with applause.
No, you just want to deny them the same civil rights that you yourself enjoy. Maybe that isn’t hate, but it sure ain’t love. Campos has more.
UPDATE: Council Member Jack Christie is a mensch. From your lips to Pastor Riggle’s ears, CM Christie.