On Saturday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement in support of marriage equality. Only two members of the 64-member voting body voted against the resolution when the Board of Directors met. Today, a press conference was held by the NAACP to clarify its position as mentioned in The Root.
GLAAD's President, Herndon Graddick, released a statement shortly after the resolution was announced, saying: "Across races, faith traditions, and political persuasions, a majority of our culture recognizes that denying gay couples the chance at happiness that comes with being married is unfair and un-American.”
Faith leaders and other LGBT activists have have also joined in on the dialogue. In a press conference last Thursday, NoWedge 2012: A Memo to Black America launched a grass-roots campaign to mobilize black voters and continue the necessary discussion of fully realized and equal protections.
This outpouring of support will be crucial to bridging racial myths and media coverage that has sought to pit the Black community and Black faith communities against LGBT communities. A much needed dialogue will be elevated as more groups take nationally public stances on discriminatory issues that affect the LGBT community.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Ben Jealous, CEO and president of the NAACP noted that he hopes his organization’s statement will be a game-changer. “There is a game right now being played to enshrine discrimination into state’s Constitutions across the country.” The use of “civil rights” evokes a great sentimentality for Blacks due to the 1960s movement and has likely caused some misunderstandings, but more and more Black leaders and activists are changing that narrative and widening the discussion, yet being sensitive to religious groups. The stance of the NAACP, Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network) and Rev. Jesse Jackson (Rainbow PUSH Coalition) is not about infringing on religious rights, but about equal protections, equality and a complete disavowal for discrimination under the law.
In the NAACP statement, it mentions this further: “The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”
Recently, the NAACP had also been heavily involved on the ground in North Carolina. The local chapter President, Rev. William Barber joined a coalition of organizations to denounce codifying discrimination into the law. Prior to this, the NAACP had also spoken out against Proposition 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act.
In the press conference today, Jealous clarified the position of the NAACP by deeming marriage equality a civil right issue. "We feel it's important that all understand our commitment to equality for all under the law [and] the Constitution, and our commitment to marriage equality specifically."