A US pastor has spoken out against equal marriage following the Supreme Court hearings around it, saying if it is allowed, Christians will be “forced underground”, and “their buildings will be taken away from them”.

Skyline Church pastor Jim Garlow spoke in an interview with Janet Mefferd on the Janet Mefferd radio programme, during which he spoke out against the idea of the Supreme Court ruing in favour of equal marriage.

Saying that gay people wanted to “destroy marriage”, he claimed that “nobody respects” the institution of marriage since some countries legalised it, and that marriage rates were dropping, reports Right Wing Watch.

He said: “I think it’s important for people to realize what’s really at stake here. And I know this sounds sound strange, most of us assume naively that what homosexuals are actually for is marriage. And that is not true, at least not universally true. What they want is to destroy marriage.

“I think Masha Gessen out of Australia was the most open one I’ve seen on it. She’s a homosexual activist and she just said bluntly, ‘Let’s face it, we don’t want marriage, we want the end of marriage.’ And that’s exactly what happened, of course, in European countries, where they changed the laws regarding what the definition of marriage is and people just stopped getting marriage. And you’d think marriage rates would go up. Instead, they dropped because nobody respects the institution anymore.”

He went on to say that being gay is “immoral”, and said that the push for equal marriage was really an attempt at seeking “affirmation” from those opposed to same-sex marriage.

“And that’s what the heart of this is, not only to end marriage, they’re not demanding marriage for themselves, they want us, to force us to affirm an immoral behaviour,” he continued.

Mefferd responded: “I think more Christians need to understand the connection between advancing LGBT rights and retreating Christian rights.”

To which Garlow responded: “If same-sex so-called marriage is established as the law of the land, many of the people who are listening to my voice right now, not maybe immediately but at some point in the future, if they are followers of Christ, will be forced underground. Their buildings will be taken away from them, many of their rights will be taken away from them.”

The US Supreme Court Justices on Wednesday indicated a possible interest in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as it heard arguments around the issue, and questioned whether there should be a federal law prohibiting states from individually deciding on the issue.

At the hearing, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said that, if DOMA were to be struck down by the Supreme Court, it would be “difficult” for any state to defend its ban on same-sex marriage.

This was the second day of hearings, as Tuesday the court heard arguments around Proposition 8, the state of California’s ban on equal marriage. Then the justices questioned the meaning of marriage, and challenged arguments for the ban. 

A decision by the Supreme Court in both cases is expected by the end of June.

Several polls released recently have found that support for equal marriage in the US has shifted greatly, and is an at all time high. 

Garlow was active in pushing Proposition 8 back in 2008, when different religious denominations were asked to join forces in order to support it.