Democrat Mark Smith’s support for same-sex marriage got him kicked out of the band.
A Bradford County, Pa. commissioner running for lieutenant governor, Smith said band mates in the Christian rock group One Floor Away recently told him he would have to quit as lead guitarist unless he changed his position on the issue.
Smith has spoken up for marriage equality on the campaign trail and on Facebook. He refused to renounce his support, and lost the opportunity to play music he loves for a band that is recording its first album and seems to be going places in the Christian rock scene.
“It sort of blew my mind,” Smith said. “It was like a smack to the side of the head.” He said the band’s record producer and a couple of his band mates gave him the ultimatum late last month as they were meeting in Ithaca, N.Y. for a recording session.
Smith has played the guitar for years, influenced by blues greats such as B.B. King, and he joined One Floor Away in 2011. He also designed its web site.
“I would prefer not to speak on the subject right now,” said KC Sawyer, a keyboardist with the band and the managing director of DMKR studios, an Ithaca, N.Y. record label that handles Christian acts, including One Floor Away. “What we do with our band we prefer to keep quiet.”
On its website, One Floor Away says its mission is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Smith was supportive of that positive message.
But he said he thought the band's dismissal was “short-sighted,” noting that even some evangelical Christians support equal rights for gays and lesbians. “I’m a liberal Democrat, and I feel we should certain allow people to marry who they please,” Smith said. “Equality is the foundation of this country; it’s not something I’ll back down on.”
He said he asked the band to remove his part from the single it recently released on iTunes and to redub it. “I can’t support them any more than they can support me,” Smith said.
He is running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in the May 2014 primary. In Pennsylvania, candidates for the No. 2 spot run independently of those seeking to become governor.
Last year, One Floor Away played Kingdom Bound, a Christian music festival in upstate New York, and also during a Christian Battle of the Bands in Philadelphia last fall, held as a benefit for Children’s Hospital. Here is video of a Smith guitar solo from the latter event: