Our President has said he will not stand in the way of gay marriage, but it seems many African-Americans remain unmoved.
Sunday morning, as Chis Wallace interviewed 2012 GOP presidential candidate hopeful Mike Huckabee, the two got into a debate on how President Obama’s policy reversal on the Defense of Marriage Act would affect the rest of his term. Huckabee argued that:
“First of all, he (Obama) alienated the African American community. Overwhelmingly, African Americans support traditional marriage, more than Hispanics and more than whites.”
Huckabee then went on to say that because African-American were 75% in support of “traditional marriage” (where he actually got that number from is unclear) that the President was in danger of losing that part of his base.
While the President has not come out in support of gay marriage, his stating that he though parts of DOMA were unconstitutional has reignited a debate over gay rights that has long persisted in this country. And while Huckabee may be stretching by saying African-Americans will alienate President Obama over the issue, he is right in asserting the issue is a contentious one within our community.
Just last week, Maryland’s legislature moved to approve same-sex marriages. Among the opposition to the bill were several African-American leaders, who argued the bill would open up a pandora’s box for the question of marriage in America in general. In a Washington Post piece from last week’s debates within the Maryland Senate:
Beyond the power and influence of the Catholic Church in Maryland, there is another potent religious force in the state opposed to same-sex marriage: African American churches. Some of the most vocal opponents in Thursday’s Senate debate were raised in Maryland’s black churches.
“Here’s my question: Where does it stop?” asked Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s), who is senior pastor of the Ark of Safety Christian Church of Upper Marlboro. He questioned whether polygamy would one day be acceptable.
There is a good deal of irony in the fact that the black church, a hugely influential institution in the fight for Civil Rights, now stands as the African-American community’s voice on banning gay rights. In his PostPartisan column, Jonathan Capehart makes one of the most poignant cases for why African-Americans should extend their definition of civil rights to include gay rights and stop behaving “as if the fight for dignity, equity and fairness is the sole province of African Americans.”
Perhaps the most insightful look at gay rights came from Civil rights hero and Medal of Freedom winner Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) who gave this speech during the 1996 congressional debates when DOMA was first brought to the floor.
You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say when people talked about interracial marriage and I quote, `Races do not fall in love and get married. Individuals fall in love and get married.’ Why do you not want your fellow men and women, your fellow Americans to be happy? Why do you attack them? Why do you want to destroy the love they hold in their hearts? Why do you want to crush their hopes, their dreams, their longings, their aspirations? We are talking about human beings, people like you, people who want to get married, buy a house, and spend their lives with the one they love. They have done no wrong.
We know gay rights have been a complex issue for the African-American community and particularly for the African-American church. Do you think it will it ever change? What is your take Clutchettes? Share your thoughts with us here.