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Same-sex marriage the topic for Manteca Patriots meeting
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The Manteca Patriots don’t have an official stance on gay marriage.

It’s just not what they do – Social issues, while they elicit the most passion, aren’t part of the group collective prerogative.

But the recent Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage nationwide is something that the group – which was formed as a local Tea Party faction – and its young leader David Cushman, are paying close attention to.

On Thursday the local non-profit – which focuses on the tenets of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets – will be welcoming longtime and recently retired Manteca pastor Mike Dillman to speak about the decision and how it affects Christians moving forward.

“Officially, we don’t have a position on same-sex marriage, but with this decision we’re looking at it from a first amendment, religious freedom sort of platform,” Cushman said. “We think that people of faith that object to the concept of gay marriage are afforded the same liberties and their respective activities are protected the same way.

“Personally, I think it would have been better if it was left up to the individual states to decide instead one fell swoop that is kind of short-circuiting the democratic process. I think that the will of the people was left out.”

Next month will mark the group’s fourth anniversary, and while attendance has grown and receded in the time since the organization was first formed, Cushman believes that a steady and dedicated following coupled with an upcoming election will lead to a growth phase for the group.

The pair of recent Supreme Court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage and upheld the Obamacare mandates, he said, are just the most recent examples of how the decisions of government affect people.

“Essentially, the government isn’t going to prohibit people of the same sex to marry, but it doesn’t say anything about churches who choose not to participate because its part of their doctrine,” Cushman said. “We’ve heard a lot lately about businesses who came under fire because they refused to participate in gay marriage ceremonies because it went against their faith,” Cushman said. “We shouldn’t discriminate against same-sex couples – I believe that is wrong – but we need to make sure that we’re not inadvertently discriminating against people of faith. I think that is wrong as well.”

Dillman, who retired last month as the senior pastor at Manteca’s Place of Refuge – which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God – has become well known as the creator of the Not Forgotten Memorial Day weekend celebration at Woodward Park that draws thousands of out-of-town guests to honor those who laid down their lives in defense of their country.

He retired from Place of Refuge on June 14.

The Manteca Tea Party Patriots will meet on Thursday at Angelano’s — located at 1020 N. Main Street between 24 Hour Fitness and Rite Aid — in the back banquet facility.