Black Civil Rights Leaders On Marriage Equality

Al-sharptonYesterday 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.


  1. G.I. Joe says

    Somehow, I don’t remember Martin Luther King every saying “I have a dream that one day little black children and little white children play together, although it’s just my opinion and of course everyone is entitled to their own, and there’s nothing wrong with saying black people are animals and we should all welcome the debate and the conversation that we’re having now”…

  2. elg/edwin says

    It’s nice that the usual suspects (the old guard of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950/60s) are supporting Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality.

    Meanwhile … Rick Santorum is urging Mitt Romney to “step up” and weaponize the issue of same-sex marriage.

  3. Stuart says

    G.I. JOE: Spot on.

    This is not a matter of “opinions”. This whole thing is in no shape or form a debate.

    Yes, of course it is an opinion to consider a group of people to be filthy and/or unworthy of equal rights, but it goes beyond that; it is an attack on civil liberties and an attack on a human being’s integrity.

  4. Just sayin' says

    This is a small step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to bring the Black and Latino communities on the bus. Reading the Buy-bull doesn’t help.

  5. says

    I love how the media and a lot of the members of the gay community perpetuate the myth that it is the Latinos and blacks that are holding back the gay movement.Even though there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest it is the white community that has the votes to change legislation.

    Please stop deflecting I am black and come from a JAMAICAN family. That loves me. Should start thinking about the Bachmanns, and the Hannitys that are the decisive creatures in this debate.One race does not have the patent for bigotry

  6. David says

    I think it’s fair to say that President Obama is finally acting like a leader on this issue. And we are seeing congressmen, senators, mayors, religious leaders and community activists of all types following him. We need politicians who have the courage to do what’s right, so that others may fall in line behind them. They will not be left standing on their own.

  7. RWG says

    Let’s hope that these leaders make a point of visiting black churches around the country this year to reenforce their thoughtful position. Personal appearances by these leaders, speaking on equality for all in church, will be have a beneficial influence on voter turnout. I welcome and appreciate their support.

  8. ratbastard says

    WHY do ‘respectable’ media give an a-hole like Sharpton recognition? He’s a COMPLETE fraud and literally has blood on his hands. And who exactly appointed any of these civil rights ‘leaders’ and ‘advocates’? Did black people hold an election while all the whites, Hispanics, and Asians were sleeping?

    I could say the same for some so-called gay rights ‘leaders’ and ‘advocates’.

  9. MyMy says

    I remember having a conversation with Rev. Joseph Lowery about civil rights for gays and Dr. Martin Luther King.. He told me that Martin Luther King Senior and Martin Luther King Junior disagreed for many months about civil rights for gays. In fact they did not speak to each other for several months because they disagreed on the topic. Finally Martin Luther King Jr. stated “we cannot be fighting for our civil rights over here, and then say it’s okay to discriminate over there. ”

    I live and work in the San Francisco bay area. The only time I ever heard gay slurs directed towards me or a companion has been in the Mission (very hispanic) neighborhood ….just saying

  10. ratbastard says


    ALL relevant statistics and surveys show REPEATEDLY that black Americans [as a group] are FAR MORE ‘conservative’ on gay issues than either whites or so-called ‘Hispanics’. Asians tend to be anti-gay also, because they like-wise, especially those from ‘traditional’ Asian backgrounds. ‘Hispanics’ surveyed generally aren’t that different from ‘whites’. And Catholics or people who identify as Catholic also tend to be the most ‘liberal’ regarding gay rights and many other social issues, aside from Jews. This could be simply because many Catholics live in urban and big metro suburban areas and this in turn tends to make them more cosmopolitan and often better educated. For that matter, the same could be said for Jews.

  11. ratbastard says

    And I speak from experience because blacks shot my father and then got away with it and it was never reported in the news because everyone know that the liberal-biased media never ever reports when blacks shoot whites. Then my dad died, all because of the injuries from the blacks shooting him. Also, my family are conservative and my brothers are jocks and they’ve always supported me for being gay, and I don’t need to prove any of this with any form of citational back-up because I’m not a lying racist sack of s**t or anything. I just like to say things about liberals and blacks because coming online to spout bigotry is the only outlet I have in life for the misery that is me. I’m so messed up that I invent stories about blacks killing my dad in order to justify my hatred of blacks. Because everyone knows I’m a troll who’d be better off dead.

  12. Codswallop says

    Rachel Maddow interviewed Trenton NJ Mayor Cory Booker this week, who gave a passionate statement in support of marriage equality, one of the best I’ve ever heard. One thing I noticed is that he almost never says the words “gay” or “gay marriage.” He frames it almost exclusively in terms of individual freedom and second class citizenry and that might be the best way to go. “This person has full rights but that person doesn’t” is a powerful argument and all the rest is just noise.

    I have to say that in comparison to mayor Booker’s words this letter, though appreciated, is pretty d*mn weak. It announces support for President Obama’s position without giving reasons or stating the case for why supporting marriage equality is the right thing to do. It pretty much just says, “We support marriage equality but you do whatever you want,” and that’s not leadership.

    The black church was a source of guidance, strength, and solace during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and it continues to be central to the community’s power structure today. I don’t think the relative high level of homophobia in the black community can be addressed without addressing religious objections and confronting religious leaders.

    But it’s going to have to come from within the community, not from outside.

  13. Lymis says


    I think there are two separate issue, and a lot of people conflate them.

    There is the issue of whether any particular group is homophobic and what effect that has on the laws. Yes, numerically, there are more white homophobes than black ones, regardless of the percentages, and there are plenty of supportive black people. That’s a good distinction to make. But you can’t deny that there are anti-gay black people.

    The other issue, which is, I think the one that raises the most heat, is that it seems like a group that has experienced so much hatred and discrimination should be more open to helping make sure that other groups are not discriminated against. We tend to feel that black people, even those who disapprove of homosexuals, should be more open to working to defend our rights. And that black people fighting against gay civil rights are hypocritical when the do so.

    Of course, for that to be an actually fair complaint, gay people as a group would have to be free of racism and sexism and be working to ensure the civil rights of other minorities as well. While that’s true of a lot of LGBT people, it’s not true enough to really support the special outrage against black homophobes.

  14. UFFDA says

    Come on now RATBASTARD the first sign for sure that you’re out off kilter is the name you’ve chosen. Now you add total confusion to it with your above post. What are you, who are you?

    I’m far more generous than most about your unpopular opinions on a website sometimes sloped like a clown’s hat to the Left, but now you’ve lost me.

    Too bad, while the unpopular opinion usually has merits you can’t add “nut case” to it and retain credibility. Still, I am sorry for whatever pain your life or past has clearly inflicted. Best…

  15. Gregv says

    @GIJoe: That’s the part that somewhat rubbed me the wrong way, too.
    First, are we really “all entitled to our own opinions” on whether gay people –or blacks or anyone else — are entitled to fair treatment under the law?
    And second, can we really all be “civil and “respectful” in the so-called debate about whether the neighbors are inferior or whether they deserve to be treated with the same basic rights as everyone else? There is only one stance that is remotely civil and respectful in that “debate.”

  16. Rick says

    This letter, while better than nothing I guess, is alarmingly timid. I agree with CODSWALLOP, Mayor Booker’s comments were brilliantly crafted and demonstrated true leadership. I literally had tears in my eyes, hearing him speak with such force and personal conviction about basic equality and a single class of citizenship.

    This letter on the other hand seems to equivocate and takes great pains not to offend. Makes me wonder if the authors feel they lack the moral authority to take a firm stand, or lack the capital to withstand a backlash.

  17. David Hearn says

    Hassa – The deal is that no one expects the Republicans to vote for gay rights. So any time a bill comes along, we’re looking at a razon thin margin by which a positive gay bill can win.

    Because the Republican party is almost entirely white and about half the population, it exaggerates the important of the black vote. While blacks are only 12.6% of the US population, they would reasonably be about twice that of the Democratic Party population.

    So when an anti-gay bill passes with 60% of the vote, then you are looking at black crossover to the GOP side, blacks defecting from the Democratic position. That’s why it’s a black thing.

    As for the Latinos, I would like to remind all the ignorant bleeding hearts here that want an open border with Mexico and a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens- that most of those illegal aliens are devout Catholics taking direction from the Vatican.

  18. FogCityJohn says

    You know, I would have thought that all of us gay folks would be happy to have the support of African-American religious and civil rights leaders. Especially since we now know that NOM is deliberately trying to divide the LGBT and AA communities. But now that these leaders have come out in favor of marriage equality, a lot of you are bellyaching about it, and some of you are doing it in language that is indisputably racist.

    Personally, I’m very happy at this development. I wish I could thank all those who signed this letter. AA civil rights leaders have now embraced the struggle for LGBT equality as part of the larger struggle for equal rights and justice for all marginalized people. That’s a huge step forward, and it’s not one we should turn our noses up at.

    One more thing. Everyone should remember that the people who run Homophobia, Inc. are overwhelmingly white (think Maggie Gallagher), as are the politicians who serve their bigoted agenda (they’re called “Republicans”). Trying to put the blame on black people or Latinos is really blinkng at reality.

  19. says

    fogcityjohn, what you’re seeing are insecure white boys with white-conservative-and-anti-gay families who are furious that “the blacks” and “liberals” are doing more for them than their own white family ever has, and ever will.


    see also: Gay republicans angry that Obama supports marriage for gay couples. of course gay republicans are angry. the black liberal democrat just extended more support to them than their own family every is going to. ouch. that’s gotta hurt.

  20. Rich says

    @david hearn-

    Although your statement about devout Catholics taking direction from the Vatican was applied to illegal aliens, you offer no evidence to support the thesis that Mexican nationals living here illegally are any different in their political and religious outlooks than their countrymen remaining in Mexico.

    You then are obliged to explain why my partner and I could legally marry in Mexico City but not in San Francisco.

  21. TampaZeke says

    As a personal friend of Julian Bond and a huge fan of all who signed this letter, I have to say that I’m disappointed in the timidity and lack of teeth that it presented. None of those who signed are known for being timid. They all have records of speaking loudly and strongly for gay rights. This letter just doesn’t live up to their standards.

    But I’m thankful for it none-the-less.

  22. jim says

    Really liking this, it’s a nice symbolic step. I do wish, however, that it had the power of Dr Barber’s speech on Amendment 1 last weekend. That speech blew me away with its passion, eloquence and power.

  23. ratbastard says

    little canadian/new zealander posted the third post under my name. I’m only responsible for the first two posts and this, the forth post by ‘ratbastard’.

    Yes little new zealander, by father was indeed the victim of a violent assault by a gang of young black males who shot him in the back,which left him in a wheelchair.

    No little zealander, no media reports. Not unusual little new zealander, I grew up in a high crime inner city neighborhood. Shootings, stabbings, assaults were all quite common. I realize this is very different from your childhood and you have difficulty understanding it.

    No, my family growing up wasn’t ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’.

    No, my brothers,except one,weren’t ‘big jocks’,just normal guys.

    Yes, my ‘white trash’ ignorant ‘working class’ Catholic family [but hey, we all went on to college and graduated] never were nor are today anti-gay and have always fully accepted me. I understand little new zealander you have problems however accepting me and my background which apparently is very different than yours.

  24. ratbastard says

    check out this link, little new zealander. my neighborhood growing was like this


  25. ratbastard says

    check out this link, little new zealander. my neighborhood growing was like this


  26. Patric says

    Rich, +100

    David Hearn, you can’t just make facts up without citing any evidence. In fact, polling has generally shown that, while Latino evangelicals are a problem, Latino Catholics poll pretty well on gay issues.

    Hassa, well said. There is anti-gay bigotry in all racial and ethnic groups and, as LGBT people, we need to resist dividing ourselves in these ways. We need to fight homophobia wherever it exists and, if you looked at election night headquarters for the Yes on One campaign in North Carolina this week, you know the impact which anti-gay white people are having in the drives to deny us our equality.

  27. says

    I’m not from New Zealand and I don’t know why your multiple-personalities are arguing with yourself, and then me.

    the screen-name is a literary reference; gay fiction by Ethan Mordden

    nice to see you can post links. got the link to your father’s “attack” by “blacks”?

    you can always make me look like a straight-up chump fool by posting a URL that backs up your claims with evidence. that would be the day, eh? 😉

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