The Rev. Al Sharpton was among the prominent African-American pastors on Friday announcing their support for gay marriage.

The coalition, led by the Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland, announced its support during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“This is not an issue about gay or straight, this is an issue about civil rights and to take a position to limit the civil rights of any one is to take a position to limit the civil rights of everyone,” Sharpton, president of National Action Network, told reporters.

“This is a policy debate … and we cannot be part-time civil-rights advocates. Those who disagree on a theological level, we should have that debate in our churches, in our houses of worship, in our seminaries. We should not legislate to say that we win the argument by forcing others to do what we want. Tyranny by the majority is anti-democratic. It's anti civil rights.”

Coates echoed a similar sentiment, saying marriage equality is primarily a public policy issue, not a religious one.

“As African-American Christian pastors and leaders, we cannot stand on the side of those who attempt to justify legalized discrimination under the guise of religious belief,” Coates said.

The coalition said it wanted to dispel the myth that all African-American ministers are against marriage equality, but opponents in Maryland, one of four states where the issue will be on the ballot in November, said the pastors had “gone renegade.”

“I think many in the Baptist faith and even in the community would say, 'Well, he's gone renegade with the belief system on this issue,'” Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, told NBC affiliate WBAL. “And I don't think he holds a lot of clout.”

(Related: Derek McCoy: God put us here to oppose gay marriage.)