Yesterday afternoon, a coalition of black civil rights leaders signed their names to a document affirming their solidarity with President Barack Obama on marriage equality. Signees include Dr. Joseph Lawry, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Melanie Campbell, of the National Coalition for Black Civic Engagement; Julian Bond, of the NAACP; and Rev. Al Sharpton.
You can read the full text of the letter here. A representative bit:
President Obama stated his view that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. This is a view that we concur with, because as civil rights leaders we cannot fight to gain rights for some and not for all. At the same time, we acknowledge that the President stated his personal opinion, which everyone is entitled to – both those who agree with him, like us, and those who disagree. The President made clear that his support is for civil marriage for same-sex couples, and he is fully committed to protecting the ability of religious institutions to make their own decisions about their own sacraments.
There will be those who seek to use this issue to divide our community. As a people, we cannot afford such division …
The signees presumably refer to the National Organization for Marriage and their embattled fellow travelers. It's never too soon for another re-reading of the NOM memos released under duress in March, in which that organization's strategists plotted to sow conflict between the black and gay communities:
The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.
Rev. Sharpton et. al. plainly don't want things to get so heated. From their letter:
It is our hope that conversations on strengthening African American families continue in a civil and respectful way, on all sides, both with those who support the ability of same-sex couples to marry, and those who do not.
We are glad that President Obama has joined Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. Julian Bond and so many others in full embrace of equality for gay and lesbian individuals in our country. We also welcome the civil debate
on this issue that will surely spring.