The NAACP Takes a Stance Against
Last week, the national office of the NAACP took its first stance on gay-marriage rights. The move thrusts the debate over gay rights in the black community back into the spotlight
Rev. Amos Brown, a national board member of the NAACP, speaks at Nov. 15 protest of the passage of Proposition 8, which amends California's constitution to ban same-sex marriage. (AP Photo)
Back in November, the wounds in the black community over California's Proposition 8 were still fresh. The community was divided between more conservative leaders, often clergy, who oppose marriage equality for religious reasons, and civil- and human-rights activists who saw the ballot initiative to prohibit same-sex marriage as a civil-rights violation they could not countenance. While the California chapter of America's oldest civil-rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, had come out in opposition to Prop. 8, the national office had remained silent.
The NAACP has been walking a tightrope on gay rights. Polls show that African Americans overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage,
but much of the high-level leadership of the nation's oldest civil-rights organization opposes legal efforts to deny gays the right to marry. Last week, the national office of the NAACP leapt into the fray when it sent a letter to California legislators urging them to support legislation that would repeal Prop. 8. After meeting with the National Black Justice Coalition, a black LGBT-rights group, and the leadership of the California State Conference, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and NAACP President Ben Jealous agreed to come out publicly in support of repealing Prop. 8.
The move thrusts the NAACP into the middle of a fight that, until now, it has largely avoided, because of the risk of alienating both board-level leadership and rank-and-file members. The California legislature approved a nonbinding resolution yesterday describing Prop. 8 as an improper revision of the state constitution. The resolution contends that Prop. 8 should have passed a two-thirds majority of the legislature before being placed on the ballot. The California Supreme Court is scheduled to hear challenges to Prop. 8 on Thursday. ...........