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Topics In the News
NAACP Endorses Marriage Equality
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 05/20/12
Last updated on: 05/21/12
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NAACP President Emeritus Julian Bond discusses his support for same-sex marriage with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

On May 19, 2012, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced that its Board has passed a resolution endorsing marriage equality. The organization, founded 103 years ago to advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, has affirmed that marriage equality is required by the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution.

Although reports have circulated that only two of the 64 Board members voted against the resolution, the exact tally has not been released. It is also reported that the resolution was sponsored by Julian Bond, President Emeritus of the NAACP and a long-time supporter of glbtq rights.

The resolution reads as follows: "The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the 'political, education, social and economic equality' of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment."

Chris Johnson in the Washington Blade, reports that NAACP leaders are framing support for marriage equality as consistent with the organization's traditional advocacy for civil rights, a development that is important since many African Americans have attempted to deny that gay rights are civil rights and have expressed disdain for comparing the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Roslyn Brock, chair of the NAACP's Board, said, "The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people. We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous called civil marriage "a civil right and a matter of civil law."

"The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people," Jealous said.

Referring to attempts by the National Organization of Marriage and other groups to use the marriage issue as a wedge with which to split the glbtq and African American communities, Jealous added: "The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed."

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, hailed the NAACP's decision. "The NAACP has long been the nation's conscience and champion for an America where all share equally in the promise of liberty and justice for all," Wolfson said. "Today the NAACP resoundingly affirmed that the freedom to marry is a civil right and family value that belongs to all of us, and that discriminatory barriers to marriage must fall."

The NAACP resolution comes on the heels of other support from prominent African-American leaders.

For example, on May 12, 2012, as reported by Diane Anderson-Minshall in the Advocate, four of the country's most influential African-American leaders issued a joint statement in support of President Obama's new stance championing marriage equality.

Reverend Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, Melanie Campbell, and the Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, issued the following statement.

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' As leaders in today's Civil Rights Movement, we stand behind the President Obama's belief that same sex couples should be allowed to join in civil marriages. We also affirm that individuals may hold different views on this issue but still work together towards our common goals: fair housing and equitable education, affordable health care and eradicating poverty, all issues of deep and abiding concern for our communities.

"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. 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. And we encourage all individuals to keep all issues of import to our communities in mind in the days ahead, and we seek to secure equal justice, opportunity, and dignity for all God's children."

In addition, Reverend Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, where President Obama attended when it was pastored by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, recently joined the chorus of African American church leaders endorsing civil marriage.

As reported by Neal Broverman in the Advocate, Moss said, "The question I believe we should pose to our congregations is, 'Should all Americans have the same civil rights?' There is difference between rights and rites. We should never misconstrue rights designed to protect diverse individuals in a pluralistic society versus religious rites designed by faith communities to communicate a theological or doctrinal perspective."

In the video below, civil rights hero Julian Bond discusses with Anderson Cooper the National Organization for Marriage's attempt to drive a wedge between African Americans and glbtq people. In the video, he evokes the gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin.

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