CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A leader in the local Latin American community raised eyebrows yesterday when her comments regarding LGBT people and gay marriage were published in a local Spanish-language newspaper.
Qué Pasa Mi Gente wrote about last week’s historic U.S. Supreme Court hearings on two important cases challenging anti-LGBT marriage discrimination in their April 3-9 print edition released yesterday (see also digital print edition, page 12). The newspaper asked four community members for their opinions, including Maudia Meléndez, the executive director of Jesus Ministry.
“I have many gay friends and I have nothing against them as people,” Meléndez said. “But we have to rely on scripture, and the word of God makes it clear that it is an abomination for a man to lay with a man and a woman to lay with a woman.”
Meléndez has been an outspoken advocate for the local Latin American community. Her group, Jesus Ministry, works to empower the Latino community and has addressed immigration reform and local criminal justice issues.
Meléndez also currently serves on Mecklenburg County’s Special Justice and Public Safety Task Force. She was appointed to the position by the county board of commissioners.
Juan Ramos, an openly gay immigrants rights activist, was also asked for his opinion.
“This is an issue that affects me personally,” Ramos told the newspaper. “I think every person should have the right to marry whomever they want. Those who wield religion to oppose, I ask where is the love, where is the equality?”
Two other published opinions were positive. (You can read those below.)
Ramos and other Latino LGBT and straight ally community members have said Meléndez does not speak for the entire Latin American community. Many took to Facebook to respond to Melendez.
“She is definitely not the voice that represents me or most of my community,” said one community member. “It saddens me to see a member of my Latino community oppressing and judging others.Shame on her!”
A Qué Pasa Mi Gente reader poll on Facebook found that 68 percent of respondents were in favor of full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Meléndez once worked as a Spanish teacher for Anson County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. She’s also served terms on the boards of Crime Stoppers and Leadership Charlotte, as well as serving on former Mayor Pat McCrory’s Immigration Study Commission.
“This is a civil rights issue that must be resolved by society with laws that ensure fairness and equality among all people. You cannot base the laws of a country on religious considerations like those of the Middle Ages.”
— Brian Molina
“I’m an atheist and I’m not gay, and I think that neither the church nor the court have the right to decide for myself, who I want to marry. This is a subject that should not even be in discussion in a society where individual rights are respected.”
— Amuary Soto