Jim Wallis is well-known as a left-of-center evangelical leader. His recent support for gay marriage, an about-face reflective of President Barack Obama’s own purported “evolution” on the issue, captivated headlines in April. But despite supporting same-sex nuptials, it seems Wallis is frustrating and infuriating gay rights advocates over comments he made on Wednesday about marriage equality and immigration.

While he supports matrimonial rights for all Americans, regardless of sexuality, Wallis said that this is not the time to tackle the issue and that the focus that evangelicals should have, at least for the moment, should be on the immigration debate. With the Senate Judiciary Committee beginning the amendment process this week on a contentious bill intended to bring both parties together on the issue, it’s certainly a sensitive time on the immigration front.

Progressive Pastor Jim Wallis Infuriates Gay Advocates: Endorsing Hatred and...Standing With Bigots

Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, speaks during a press conference at the United Methodist Building January 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

“I support equal protection under the law but I think this is the wrong place in the wrong time to try and resolve this contentious issue,” Wallis said during a press call for the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT). “This must be a bipartisan bill. Our focus must be on the 11 million undocumented and vulnerable people who this is their time, their chance, this is their moment.”

The EIT, as TheBlaze has reported, is a collective of pastors and preachers who are intent on seeing immigration reform enacted. Far from a left-of-center cohort, faith leaders with varying political opinions have come together under the EIT umbrella in an effort to help solve America’s immigration conundrum. Recently, we interviewed the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, a conservative and the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), about his views on the matter.

The Christian Post provides more context about the issues that led Wallis to grant his controversial answer about same-sex marriage and immigration. It seems there’s an amendment being touted for possible inclusion in the immigration bill that could spark a fair bit of controversy:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) … has sponsored a contentious amendment that would allow U.S. citizens in long-term same-sex relationships to sponsor foreign partners for green cards. According to one report, although the authors of the bill have vowed to block “poison pill” amendments from derailing the legislation, Leahy’s amendment is already ringing like a fire alarm.

In his comments on Wednesday, however, Wallis, who was responding to a question from a reporter on whether or not the EIT would support an immigration reform bill with a gay rights amendment, could not stress enough that the marriage between the two issues was inappropriate for the time.

Wallis noted that regardless of views on gay marriage, ensuring bi-partisan support for immigration reform is, in his view, essential. Since adding an additional social debate into the mix is unpalatable and dangerous to immigration reform’s passage, he’s pushing for avoidance on that front, calling it the “wrong place and wrong time for other contentious issues to come up that will be and can be resolved in other venues.”

Progressive Pastor Jim Wallis Infuriates Gay Advocates: Endorsing Hatred and...Standing With Bigots

Progressive pastor Jim Wallis (Photo Credit: AP)

However, as the Post notes, gay rights bloggers quickly decried Wallis stance. America Blog wrote the following:

Wallis, incredibly, organized a media conference call with renowned gay-hater and right-wing knuckle-dragger Richard Land of the Baptists (who famously claimed that women who get an abortion are psychologically impaired) in order to kill any effort to address the problems gay couples face with immigration. [...]

For the record, it’s not about “gay marriage,” Mr. Wallis.

It’s about gay couples being ripped apart by the US immigration system because their relationships aren’t recognized as legitimate.  If they were straight, their spouses could stay. But because they’re gay, they can’t.  So spare us the Rush-Limbaugh Gary-Bauer Rick-Santorum talking points about how we’re pushing for “gay marriage” in the immigration bill.  We’re fighting for the immigration rights of our loved ones.

Another blogger, John Becker, took an even more pointed tone, claiming that the progressive faith leader is throwing gays “under the bus.” In the conclusion to his article about Wallis’ views on immigration and gay marriage, Becker wrote, “Shame on Jim Wallis — for letting himself be duped, for tacitly endorsing hatred, and for standing with bigots instead of with the marginalized, the way a true Christian progressive would do.”

So, despite supporting gay marriage so publicly last month, it seems Wallis is going to be getting some heat for not endorsing one of the most controversial amendments in the immigration bill — a provision that, if adopted, could derail potential bi-partisan support for the measure. Read more about the controversy here.

(H/T: Christian Post)