Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter addressed a group of students at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan where he grounded his pro-Marriage Equality statements in his Christian faith.
When asked about LGBT rights at the college on Monday night, the President turned Sunday School teacher said “I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone.”
After pausing for the deafening applause, he continued, “the sexual orientation of a person is the same as the color of their skin or… whether they’re poor or rich, or whether they live in a foreign country or our country. I think discrimination against anyone and depriving them of actual equal rights in the United States is a violation of the basic principles of the Constitution that all of us revere in this country.” Carter’s direct way of speaking and frank comments leave no room for interpretation. Carter is yet another prominent figure who states that it is possible to be a Christian and still support gay rights.
Carter went on to say that we should “treat everyone equal in the eyes of God, everyone equal in the eyes of our constitution, and also equal in the eyes of the laws that our congressmen pass. We ought to have that attitude about other people, in the eyes of God they’re just as good as we are.”
This is not the first time former President Carter spoke on gay equality. In an interview with Huffington Post in 2012 concerning the release of his book NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, Carter is quoted saying “Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things — he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”
Carter does not, however, believe that all churches should be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. In the same interview, he states “I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to.”
Still, Carter’s personal belief remains accepting and not just of gay rights, but of general equality. In the 2012 interview, he said “I separated from the Southern Baptists when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women, because I believe what Paul taught in Galatians that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between men and women, slaves and masters, Jews and non-Jews -– everybody is created equally in the eyes of God.”