Several civil rights leaders have been outspoken about their unwavering support of Obama’s endorsement for marriage for same-sex couples in the last week.
On Wednesday, May 9, when Obama made breaking headlines with his historic announcement, the media waited with bated breath to see what reaction the African American community might elicit since communities of color and the LGBT community has been in an antagonistic relationship due to wrongful blaming and scapegoat tactics, especially among the faith-based communities of color.
In a wide-effort to disrupt a harmful narrative, national civil rights leaders are making sure the public gets it right this election season. Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Joseph Lawry and Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, Julian Bond have all spoken out in support of Obama support for marriage equality.
The National Action Network released Rev. Al Sharpton’s statement soon after Obama’s statement. Rev. Sharpton acknowledged Obama for the “correctness” of his position, stating: “I salute President Obama’s statement today supporting same-sex marriage. This is an important and historic development for a sitting President to take such a bold, and I feel correct, position.”
Such voices will be integral in the months ahead as conservative groups attempt to manipulate the dialogue in the media surrounding marriage equality using race and faith to split votes within the African American community as seen earlier this year in NOM’s divisive strategies. Religious and political views span all racial categories and it is counter-productive to mobilizing support and progressing the movement if these discussions overshadow the larger issue—equal protection.
Sharpton goes on to say, “I am prepared to fight, as I have since 2003 in the faith community, about the rightness of the position that the President has now taken.”
Some groups have presupposed that African American voters, especially in the faith community, are disinterested in supporting the LGBT community in the fight for equality, but civil rights leaders and celebrities alike are voicing their support for full marriage protections for same-sex couples.
Darlene Nipper also has also spoken about the overwhelming support that the LGBT community has been giving as well. As an ordained person, she believes that a significant portion of the movement lies within the effort to go “church-to-church, person-to-person, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, store-to-store, door-to-door and family-to-family—we have got to tell the truth” The national, along with the grass-roots is pivotal in the course to change minds.
While many may oppose the rights for same-sex couples to marry, this should not be conflated with race because it distracts the voting public from the significant issues at hand that are affecting many LGBT families and relationships nationwide as evident in the devastating passing of Amendment One in North Carolina this May.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition, along with Rev. Jesse Jackson issued a press release as well calling for “equal protection under the law” for all people.
“Therefore, by law, all citizens are covered under one big tent---and no one, no one, is to be left outside, beyond the protection of our country’s laws. […] We must be consistent in upholding human rights for all human beings, Rev. Jesse Jackson goes on to say in the release.
For many African Americans, church is and has been a staple in the fabric of the community, but faith and LGBT communities are not exclusive of one another and should not be used to make the case they inherently are.