Coretta Scott King Hub

Is Bernice King, Longtime Foe of Same-Sex Marriage, Evolving?

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:

KingIn 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.

The paper adds:

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.

Mary Frances Berry in the NYT: New Civil Rights Commission in Order

Mary Frances Berry, the former co-chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, outlines the inequalities LGBT citizens suffer in an op-ed today in the NYT, calling on Obama to abolish the now "moribund" commission she once co-chaired and replace it with one that address the rights of LGBT people and other disenfranchised groups. A powerful piece:

Berry"The commission (launched by Eisenhower in '57) conducted interviews and public hearings, prepared detailed reports and recommended new protections that would ultimately be passed in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These laws embodied the goals of the protestors who marched, went to jail and died to end racial discrimination. The commission became what the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, who was the chairman from 1969 to 1972, called the 'conscience of the government' on civil rights issues. There is no need to analogize the battle for the rights of gay and lesbian people to the struggle of African Americans to overcome slavery, Jim Crow and continued discrimination. But as Coretta Scott King said to me as she tried to imagine what position the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would take on 'don’t ask, don’t tell': 'What’s the yardstick by which we should decide that gay rights are less important than other human rights we care about?' The Commission on Civil Rights has been crippled since the Reagan years by the appointments of commissioners who see themselves as agents of the presidential administration rather than as independent watchdogs. The creation of a new, independent human and civil rights commission could help us determine our next steps in the pursuit of freedom and justice in our society. A number of explosive issues like immigration reform await such a commission, but recommendations for resolving the controversies over the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people should be its first order of business."

Berry served on the Commission for Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004.

Gay But Equal? [nyt]


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