Southern Baptists: Gay rights not civil rights

Associated Press | by Travis Loller | June 20th, 2012

Fred Luter, Pastor of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans reacts as he is elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, at the convention in New Orleans, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Luter is the first African-American to be elected president of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS — A day after electing their first African-American president, Southern Baptists passed a resolution opposing the idea that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.

Thousands of delegates at the denomination’s annual meeting in New Orleans on Wednesday were nearly unanimous.

It affirms Southern Baptist belief that marriage is “the exclusive union of one man and one woman” and that “all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful.”

It acknowledges that gays and lesbians sometimes experience “unique struggles” but declares that they lack the “distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections.”

The nation’s largest Protestant denomination is attempting to broaden its appeal beyond its traditional white Southern base. At the same time, leaders said they feel it is important to take a public stand on their opposition to same-sex marriage.

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