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Southern Baptists: Gay rights not civil rights

NEW ORLEANS — Southern Baptists passed a resolution Wednesday opposing the idea that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.

Thousands of delegates at the denomination's annual meeting were nearly unanimous in their support for the resolution that affirms their belief that marriage is "the exclusive union of one man and one woman" and that "all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful."

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

The resolution acknowledges that gays and lesbians sometimes experience "unique struggles" but declares that they lack the "distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections."

The resolution includes a statement that the Southern Baptist Convention stands against "any form of gay-bashing, whether disrespectful attitudes, hateful rhetoric, or hate-incited actions."

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