Southern Baptist leader vows never to officiate same-sex union

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union.

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union. Eric Albrecht, Columbus Dispatch (via AP)

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union. Eric Albrecht, Columbus Dispatch (via AP)

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union.

Updated: 8:00 p.m. EDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The president of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination on Tuesday vowed never to officiate at a same-sex union, and the Southern Baptist Convention called on the U.S. Supreme Court not to declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Pastor Ronnie Floyd was speaking to delegates at the convention’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. But he said his message was also for the U.S. Supreme Court — which is expected to rule within days on same-sex marriage — and for all of America.

Floyd said he has compassion for people whom he described as struggling with same-sex attraction, but he said it would be wrong to remain silent on the issue.

“America: We stand believing that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in a covenant commitment for a lifetime,” Floyd said to a standing ovation from the 5,000 people in attendance. “We do not need to redefine what God himself has defined already.”

The theme of Floyd’s address was “now is the time to lead,” a refrain he repeated several times. In addition to marriage, Floyd asked Southern Baptists to lead opposition to abortion, saying, “Even though reports state that abortion rates are down some, we do not need to become content in or callous to this deplorable issue.”

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A recent Associated Press survey found that abortions have declined since 2010 not only in states where new laws make it harder to have them, but also in states where abortion rights are protected.

Floyd also called upon Christians to “decry all racism and prejudice, denouncing it as sin against God and sin against one another.”

But Floyd was especially fervent about marriage, saying: “This could be a watershed moment in our history, possibly changing the trajectory of our nation unlike anything we’ve seen since 1973 in the Roe vs. Wade decision.”

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