Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

‘The Moral High Ground’: NAACP Endorses Gay Marriage

(Photo: Two Mad Queens)

The nation’s oldest civil rights group made a historic endorsement of gay marriage, highlighting the painfully slow yet tangible evolution of black Americans’ views on marriage equality.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People passed a resolution in support of same-sex marriage at a meeting of the group’s board of directors in Miami on Saturday.

The resolution states that:

The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, 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.

“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP, said in a statement. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

“Civil marriage is 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,” Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP added.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force broke into joyous applause upon hearing the news at their board meeting.

“Today is a historic day,” Rea Carey, executive director of the task force, told the Times in a phone interview from Seattle. “This is what leadership looks like in this country.”

The NAACP endorsement comes a little more than a week after President Barack Obama announced his support for marriage equality.

“I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” the president said on May 9.

His endorsement came one day after North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman and affirming the illegality of gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. In a sign, perhaps, of things to come, Rev. Dr. William Barber, director of the North Carolina branch of the NAACP, spoke out strongly against the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

“When you say, ‘Do you believe hate and discrimination should be in the Constitution?’ there’s a very different answer on this,” Barber told the PBS NewsHour the day before the statewide vote. “We believe that’s extraordinarily dangerous. It sets up different precedents.”

“What if we put the Voting Rights Act up for a popular vote? What if we put the ’64 Civil Rights Act up for a popular vote?”

Still, many blacks oppose gay marriage. Many oppose all things gay, for that matter. Much of blacks’ opposition is based on their strong religious convictions. There is also a strong undercurrent of homophobia among blacks, especially black males. African-Americans were instrumental in the passage of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban.

A 2009 Los Angeles Times poll found that fully 54 percent of California’s blacks were against gay marriage, and a Pew Forum poll last October revealed that 62 percent of black Protestants nationwide opposed marriage equality.

Opponents of marriage equality know very well that many blacks agree with their stance. Indeed, the National Organization for Marriage, the nation’s leading anti-gay marriage group, actively sought to pit gays against blacks and Hispanics in the marriage battleground states of Maine and Maryland this year.

Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP, called NOM’s strategy “one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard.” The National Black Justice Coalition said the revelation of the tactics “expose NOM for what it really is – a hate group determined to use African American faith leaders as pawns to push their damaging agenda.”


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