African American Leaders on Equal Rights For Gays

(6 pm – promoted by ek hornbeck)

There can be no doubt that Senator Barack Obama is a proponent of gay rights. There should be no question on that point. But in their zealous defense of their candidate regarding the McClurkin controversy, some Obama supporters have argued that a strong defense of gay rights alienates African American voters. This is not borne out by the positions taken by these African American leaders.

John Lewis:

FROM TIME to time, America comes to a crossroads. With confusion and controversy, it’s hard to spot that moment. We need cool heads, warm hearts, and America’s core principles to cleanse away the distractions.

We are now at such a crossroads over same-sex couples’ freedom to marry. It is time to say forthrightly that the government’s exclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters from civil marriage officially degrades them and their families. It denies them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It denies them numerous legal protections for their families.

This discrimination is wrong. We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.

Al Sharpton:

[S]ome high-profile black ministers continue to employ an agenda focused solely on sexually-based themes, like denying a women’s right to choose an abortion or a gay couple’s right to marry, to rally their congregations and drive a wedge through our people.

Not only are they speaking narrowly on the issues of gay marriage and abortion, but even as the Supreme Court is today taking on affirmative action, there has been silence from the black church.

Many African-Americans recognize the narrowness of scope of these beliefs. To that end, we held a conference — The National Conference and Revival for Social Justice in the Black Church — in Dallas, Texas, last week where more than 100 ministers restated and reemphasized what issues are of dire importance to the black populace as a whole.

David Dinkins:

At times ebullient, at times seemingly close to tears of joy, Mayor David N. Dinkins defied his detractors yesterday and joined a rousing dance at an outdoor celebration in Greenwich Village with the Irish lesbians and gay men he had joined in Saturday’s abuse-marred St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“The behavior of some people yesterday was despicable,” the Mayor declared as scores of people at the party in Sheridan Square surged around him on a springlike afternoon, chanting his name over and over and singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

“You did the right thing!” someone shouted.

“We all did the right thing,” Mr. Dinkins responded.

Yes of course, like of all our society, there is homophobia in the African-American community. But to portray this unacceptable view as dominant in the African-American political makeup is simply false.


Skip to comment form

    • Armando on October 24, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    gone completely off the rails.

    • TomP on October 24, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I know you as BTD.

    I have read such weird defenses of homophobia the last few days. Now there are diaries saying that to win, folks must support homophobia because we need the “African American” community, which they claim is homophobic. 

    Your quotes put a lie to that.  I just don’t buy it.

    Even if it were true, however, it would be wrong.

    Thank you for an excellent diary.

    • pico on October 24, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    when legislation for gay marriage goes up in California, the NAACP is on the front lines supporting it.  Given all the high-profile trumpeting of black homophobia as a monolithic disease, you’d think the NAACP’s vocal support of gay marriage would make the news.  … Ha!

    That said, it’s easy to overstate the point: homophobia is a real problem in the black community, especially when inwardly directed (that is, towards those who are both black and gay).  But the defenses of this preacher make the bizarre claim that not having a homophobic preacher in a gospel lineup will result in voters staying away from Obama, which…  well, I don’t understand that logic at all.  No one’s sitting around thinking, “I won’t vote for this guy unless he has at least one rabid anti-gay person in his gospel tour!”  Seriously.

    • Lahdee on October 24, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I found two interesting thoughts from Mr. Lewis that struck a cord with me, and may be applicable in other contexts.
    “We need cool heads, warm hearts, and America’s core principles to cleanse away the distractions.” Useful when discussing the right’s propensity to make non-issues into issues, lapel flag pins come to mind.
    And, “Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.” For me this one applies to almost any republican policy position.

    • pico on October 24, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    1. I’ve been scouring the black blogs (hardly thoroughly, but it’s relatively new territory to me), and I’ve noticed two trends: they either don’t mention this debacle at all, or they are extremely negative about it.  I don’t see anyone coming out swinging for McClurkin, or arguing that he needs to be in the lineup (I’ll have a short list of some of them in the LGBT roundup at noon).  A lot of bloggers of color have already been disappointed with Obama – if I’m not mistaken, Clinton is actually beating him in polls of black female voters.  Either way, I don’t see anyone supporting him on this.

    (This was the best and most concise reaction to the McClurkin issue – well worth the quick read.)

    2. The doubly sad part of this is that many white readers who don’t bother reading the black blogs – something I’ve been plenty guilty of – will come out of this debate with a reinforced notion that the black community is homogeneous and homophobic, despite everything in point 1.  So I won’t be entirely surprised if we eventually see some black bloggers reacting against that: calling the white blogs to task for their narrow and occasional focus on black homophobia at the expense of larger issues.

  1. of the bigoted and ignorant segments of our society to shape our political dialog blows me away! It is not only insulting to gay people and black people but to all citizens. It takes us all down when hatred and fear of others is passed off as values. It turns our electoral process into the mud wrestling match it has become.

    Meanwhile, racism, sexism, fear and all the crawly things in our psyche, are unleashed and running rampant.  The foundations of all our rights are being  kicked out from under us. The pols play our primary madness and the voices of the ones willing to address the real beasts, remain unheard. 

  2. …within the African-American community.

    I can only go by my own (white male) experience, which is a bit extensive after 55 years.  So, I absolutely refuse to believe the black community at large is homophobic.  Based on personal experience (including my own family), most people have–and love (at least tolerate, in some retrograde cases)–glbt family members.

    It’s like the old notion that everyone has a family member who works (or once worked) in the Post Office.

    It would be interesting to have solid research/polling data to bear this out.

  3. It’s just shocking huh?  I really don’t care if homophobia is predominant in the Afro American community and voters or not.  I don’t give a flying frick.  It isn’t right.  They are wrong.  Slavery is wrong!  Torture is wrong!  Sexism is wrong!  Discrimination is wrong! Sexual discrimination and sexual preference discrimination is wrong!  McClurkin is a huge soft yet poison BS wrong!  Obama two stepping any place with McClurkin is wrong!  Obama supporters are wrong!  End of discussion!  Obama might as well just come right out and start doubting evolution if he’s going to hang out with gay curers!

  4. answers in favor of the primary fever.Were left here with nothing but the crap from both sides, you all it primary madness. I call it national insanity with rationalization thrown in. Any human with a brain in their head can see this is all just bullshit. Black, white, male, female we will all get screwed if these ‘front runners’ however they ironically or intentionally presented, are nothing but hype, running under the the delusion/illusion that they are not not the ‘white males.’ They all suck and were led to believe the false faces were presented with are real alternatives . 

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