The 103-year-old NAACP has done what you would expect of an organization dedicated to the advancement of equal rights – they have joined other black voices and come out in support of marriage equality. On Saturday, May 19, 2012 – one week after our first black president’s historic announcement – the NAACP board of directors issued the following resolution:
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.
Saying that the decision affirms opposition to government efforts to codify discrimination, the NAACP addressed its marriage rights bona fides:
The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.
Republicans of course have hoped for a break in the ranks among black voters over President Obama’s announcement but that break is not materializing; Rev. Jesse Jackson (who compared it to the fight against slavery) and the 90-year-old Rev. Joseph Lowery (who says equal rights for some but not all is an “oxymoron”) have praised the president for his stance; Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z has come out in support of Obama on marriage equality as has Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton’s statement like Lowery’s accurately identified the nature of the struggle: “This is not about mine or anyone’s personal or religious views. It is about equal rights for all. We cannot be selective with civil rights. We must support civil rights for everybody or we don’t support them for anyone.”
“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” pointed out Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP, saying essentially the same thing. “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.” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.
Let’s face it: black opposition to President Obama is not materializing. Contrary to the dictates of Republican political theology, Americans are realizing that where equal rights are concerned, it’s all or nothing. You cannot demand equal rights for yourself while denying them for others without becoming an oppressor yourself.
All of this sanity and tolerance isn’t going to make the GOP love certain constitutional amendments, will it? This is the sort of thing that happens when women (Nineteenth Amendment) and blacks (Fourteenth Amendment) get uppity. You give people equal rights and they stop doing what you want them to do.
The knee-jerk response will be of course to disenfranchise as many “icky brown people” as possible and of course, Obama is already under attack by birthers in Arizona, which has an institutional hatred for Latinos as well as for black presidents.
Leah Burton discussed conservatism’s gay obsession yesterday, some of its big players and the causes of homophobia. You would think that America hates gay people but it doesn’t. As I mentioned here most Americans support the cause of LGBTQ equality. It is a religiously zealous few who would deny the rights of another minority; they pretend to represent the many, but they do not.
How many more national figures will have to come out in support of Obama and marriage equality? It won’t matter. If every pro-equality American was put into a list alongside the marriage bigots and the degree of support could readily be seen, it would not matter. But marriage equality’s opponents are targeting themselves for political extinction as more and more younger Americans come out in support of equality and as white people themselves slip into minority status in number of births, leaving white evangelical bigots with a much reduced recruiting pool.
They have the votes and the money currently to manipulate votes and advance their agenda of bigotry, but if the polls are accurate, 2012 will be their high-water mark and America’s low-water mark. We can, perhaps, after a brief flirtation with the 13th century finally get on with the business of moving into the 21st century. The support of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jay-Z, the NAACP are all part of that. Together we can do this. Fortunately for us, diversity and pluralism is what a modern liberal democracy is all about.