SCHENECTADY : County NAACP chief resigns over principle of gay marriage
The president of Schenectady County’s NAACP chapter has resigned over his differences with the national organization’s endorsement of gay marriage.
The Rev. Theodore W. Ward, who was elected to a two-year term as president of the local branch of the national civil rights organization last March, said his sole reason for stepping down was his opposition to a resolution in support of marriage equality, which was passed May 19 by the national NAACP board of directors.
Although he applauded the work of the NAACP and said he still supports the organization, Ward, who is a pastor at Koinonia Christian Center in Schenectady, said the resolution is out of sync with his religious beliefs. He said he believes marriage should be reserved solely for unions between a man and a woman.
“I stand for equal rights for individuals and human beings whether they’re homosexual, straight, gay, it doesn’t matter, everyone should be treated fair and equal. I do believe that,” he said. “However, from a biblical standpoint and as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have to decide to draw the line somewhere, and that’s where I draw the line.”
Ward replaced Paul Webster as president of the Schenectady County chapter.
Webster, who said he supports the NAACP’s stance on gay marriage, was surprised to hear of Ward’s resignation.
“It’s unfortunate to see Rev. Ward resign, but if the NAACP is to be relevant in the 21st century, its policies and practices have to be in step with contemporary society, and it is a great move by the national organization,” he said.
Joe Allen, a former president of the Schenectady County chapter and former commissioner of the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission, said he can understand Ward’s resigning.
Allen, a former city councilman, said he is not in favor of gay marriage or of New York state’s decision to recognize gay unions.
“A lot of people like to say it’s a civil rights issue. I don’t think it is. For someone like me who was involved with the NAACP for years and years and years and before that was involved with the Congress of Racial Equality, I’ve often felt like civil rights and human rights is an issue that should be dealt with because of discrimination,” he said. “If you choose not to support gay marriage, I don’t think that’s discrimination.”
Joseph Skinner, vice president of the Schenectady County NAACP chapter, will take over as interim president.
Ward said the local organization will flourish under new leadership.
“One person does not stop the show, so to speak. The Schenectady NAACP is far greater, more superior than Ted Ward. I believe that Joe Skinner and other board members will do an outstanding job and it will continue to thrive, continue to make an impact in Schenectady County and hopefully will be a catalyst for civil rights to continue to flourish in our state,” he said.