The Georgia Voice reports that Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a longtime foe of marriage equality, shocked LGBT listeners upon taking the stage at Atlanta's MLK Day rally:
In a passionate, sermon-like speech about building unity, King said she didn't care if people were Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, were from the North side or the South side, were black or white, were “heterosexual or homosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender” — that all people were needed to create unity.
In 2004, King was an elder at Bishop Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and the two led a march of thousands through the streets of Atlanta to protest, among other issues, gay marriage. She has also said that her father "did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage."
Craig Washington, a founder of the Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde breakfast where LGBT activists and allies gather before participating in the MLK march, said he was “surprised and actually excited” by King's words.
It reminded me that people can and do shift attitudes. They do evolve,” he said. “What Bernice’s turnabout …spoke to is potential to change. We still have to remember they too are human.
I was like, 'What?' I clutched pearls. I sure did. I was not prepared to applaud Bernice King today and she gave me something to applaud,” Washington said.
MLK's widow and Bernice's mother Coretta Scott King was an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights until her death in 2006.