At Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 17, 2012, Pastor Joseph Tolton took the stage first in a press conference stating, “We have more in common than what divides us.” This was the launch of the “No Wedge 2012: A Memo to Black America” campaign, in which Civil Rights, LGBT and faith leaders all gathered to address the “wedge” tactics that have been used by conservative, anti-gay groups to “divide” the Black vote on the single issue of marriage equality.
The talks were both moving and strong. They sought to bridge the gap between race, religion and sexual orientation. Faith leaders, such as Rev. Candy Holmes repeatedly asserted that being Black, religious and gay were not mutually exclusive and were all significant parts of her identity and culture. She urged herself and others to keep the conversation strong as America move towards fairness and equality. “I am no less black and no less spiritual,” says a passionate Rev. Candy Holmes looking out over the podium into the church.
When Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition took the stage, her passion for inclusion was visible. Unashamedly she exclaimed, “Enough is Enough!” She also praised President Obama’s recent affirmation for marriage equality and his willingness to concern himself with “human dignity and quality of life over political gain”
Rev. Dr. Dennis Willey, senior pastor of Covenant Baptist Church called upon the “collective strength of black people.” He contested the notion of the monolithic “Black Church” and refused to let it to put a “wedge” among his congregation and neutralize the black voters or culture. The whole campaign is also committed to dispelling the myth that black faith communities oppose LGBT equality. While they also recognized, the entire Black community may not be on board, they were committed to a grass-roots efforts to change hearts and minds.
The press conference ended with an emotional prayer and final words by Rev. Cedric Harmon of Many Voices and Rev. Christine Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church. “Choose unity, not division” were some final words that were bestowed upon the listening audience.
The “NoWedge 2012: A Memo to Black America” campaign will continue throughout this year to fight against anti-gay tactics. The campaign will focus on inclusion of LGBT brothers and sisters who are already a significant part of the black faith community. The campaign will also bring awareness around other social issues that affect the black community as well, such as health care, employment, incarceration and education.
NoWedge seeks to shift opinions through a grass-roots approach, using an “each one, teach one” mentality. Rev. Christine Wiley urged everyone to “stay in dialogue.” By doing so, LGBT advocates educate others in their communities and spread truth, rather than division.
GLAAD encourages Black people of faith to find out more about the campaign and join, please visit: NoWedge 2012: A Memo to Black America and take the pledge. You can also use #NoWedge2012 on Twitter to spread the word as well!