Marriage Equality: Is It Simply Black & White?

“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.”

That is what Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president of the NAACP, (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), said after the group decided last weekend to support marriage equality.

However, those views are not shared by Dr. Alveda King, daughter of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., “Neither my great-grandfather an NAACP founder, my grandfather Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. an NAACP leader, my father Rev. A. D. Williams King, nor my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced the homosexual agenda that the current NAACP is attempting to label as a civil rights agenda.”

And, in 2005, in New Zealand, her youngest sister, the Reverend Bernice King put things more bluntly by stating that her father “did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage.”

I wonder if she’ll evolve on that matter as President Barack Obama did a few weeks ago when he told ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 53% of people support marriage equality with 39% opposing it .  This is a significant turnaround from six years ago when only 36% thought same-sex marriages should be legal.

But, the biggest change has come in the African-American community.  While only a small number of that community was sampled in the recent poll, 59% now say they support marriage equality, which is up 18% since President Obama  spoke out for marriage equality.

We all know that there are white people and there are black people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.  I have some friends that even have issues with the word “marriage” and think it should only be between a man and a woman.  So, does this mean they don’t support full civil rights or civil unions for gay people?  Probably not.  They are just holding that word — “marriage” — sacred to their heart.

But, I’m talking about equality and civil rights today and I’ll leave the word “marriage” out for a moment.

I’ve been with my partner now for more than three years.  Back on September 30, 2011, we made sacred vows to each other, we both signed papers in front of a Scott County, Iowa, judge and close family members, and we had a beautiful party the next day for hundreds of our friends.

While we’re a non-traditional family with two dads and a daughter (there’s still a mother in the mix), we are married and if you believe that recent poll, 39% of Americans still have an issue with that.

We’re still very happy with each other.  And, I’m sorry that the 55-hour Las Vegas “marriage” for Britney Spears, the 72-day “marriage” for Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, Larry King’s first seven “marriages”, or Rush Limbaugh’s first three “marriages” failed.

It all comes back to that word “marriage” with some people.  Why can’t we go to church, go to work, go to school, go wherever and go on with our individual lives and be happy with what we have and not worry if the two men or two women down the street are in love and want the same civil right to get married.

Is it because you think that God opposes it?  If you’re religious, I bet that’s it if you oppose marriage equality.  There is a simple solution:  let God deal with it when the time comes.  Let God judge those people.

This county was founded on the premise that “all men are created equal”.  The “Declaration of Independence” that was ratified on July 4, 1776, did not say “all men are created equal except for”.

Women know that there’s an issue with that since they weren’t allowed to vote until 1920 and African-Americans know the pain that they endured well beyond the days that Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery.  That battle for equality took another 100 years!  And, to be honest, blacks still face discrimination in this country and it’s been almost 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964.

1964 was a great year.

While I could say it was because I was born late in the year, I’m saying that because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in the summer.  That basically made it against the law to discriminate against African-Americans and women. It also stopped unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation at work, in schools, and at facilities that served the general public.

This will not come as a surprise to anyone, but when the voting took place for this legislation, politicians from the Confederate States of America (CSA) during the Civil War (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) were so transparent in their stupidity.

From those CSA states, in the House, 7 voted for the Civil Rights Act and 97 voted against it.  In the Senate, only one voted for it and the other 21 said no.

In the struggle for equal rights for blacks and for women, one name was synonymous with that movement — the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

How would Dr. King respond to marriage equality if he were alive today?

It’s hard to say and anyone that does is just speculating.  However, in an “Ebony” magazine article in 1958, this is how he responded to a letter from a youngster who was sexually attracted to boys.

After stating that it required “careful attention”, Dr. King wrote”, “The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired.  You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

While reading that, I didn’t think that Reverend King was making a statement that being gay was wrong and the boy had to change.  I realize that it was the late-1950s and “gay rights” (and civil rights) were unheard of at that time.  Additionally, in 1958, “homosexuality” was still considered a mental illness.  In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and the American Psychological Association did the same two years later.

I think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the changing views of the medical community would have had a major impact of Dr. King’s views.  And, I’m speculating.

Michael G. Long, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, has written several books on the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and he says, “Dr. King never publicly welcomed gays at the front gate of his beloved community. But he did leave behind a key for them – his belief that each person is sacred, free and equal to all to others.”

Ravi Perry, a political science professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, says there is no public or private accounts of  Rev. King condemning gay people, “If Dr. King were anti-gay, there would likely be a sermon, a speech, a recording of some kind indicating such.  And knowing how closely his phones were tapped; surely there would be a record of such statements.”

And, Perry also says that Dr. King’s late wife, Coretta Scott King, was very warm toward gay people.  She once said in a public speech that everyone who believed in her husband’s dream should “make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

So, while we can all speculate on what Dr. King’s thoughts on marriage equality would have been today if he weren’t gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1968, it’s just that, speculation.

But, that doesn’t keep some members of his family from criticizing the gay rights movement and marriage equality.

Alveda King, who is pro-life (despite two abortions and an attempted third) and who is anti-gay, recently comments about the NAACP’s decision to support marriage equality.  Not only did she say that the King men that made her family a household name would oppose marriage equality, she added, “In the 21st Century, the anti-traditional marriage community is in league with the anti-life community, and together with the NAACP and other sympathizers, they are seeking a world where homosexual marriage and abortion will supposedly set the captives free.”

This is the same woman who sparked controversy in 2010 by comparing marriage equality to “genocide”.  I really have to shake my head on his one when I think that the woman has also been married and divorced three times.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones!

And, earlier I also quoted the Reverend Bernice King when she said her father didn’t take a bullet for same-sex marriage.  This is also the same woman who, in 2005, marched to her father’s grave with Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia, while condemning marriage equality.  And, she keeps good company.  Long recently settled out of court with several young men that claimed that he forced them into sexual relationships, while publicly condemning people being gay!

Like their mother, the oldest King child, Yolanda Denise King was a strong advocate for gay rights before her death in 2007.

So, it’s not hard to see why this country is so divided over marriage equality.  It’s not just an issue between Democrats and Republicans, races, sexes, religions, or young and old, it’s even an issue within families.

It’ has even divided the King family.  And, you’d think that with a  family like theirs, which dealt with equality and inequality all their lives, the fight would be for equality.

It really makes me wish that we could just live our lives without having anyone oppressing you and just let everyone try to find happiness.

I’ll close with this quote from the late Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Anthony

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Deb Griffin Senko on May 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Very well said, Anthony. For me I am a female and have been married to the same man for 33 years. It was and is still today my choice and I think that’s where our freedoms step in. We do have the freedom to choose what we want in life, the freedom to do and just about what we want to say. So what Dr. King might have said or done is irrelevant. Its your freedom to choose what and how you want to live your life.

    Reply

    • Deb,

      Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and respond.

      And, a big congratulations to you and your husband on 33 years. I’m very happy for you.

      I think Dr. King would have been on the right side of history still today if he were alive.

      Take care,
      Anthony

      Reply

  2. Posted by Sande McAtee on May 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Anthony,

    This was beautifully written! I have a friend who has been with her partner for many years. I have been her friend for many years as well and fully support her in her relationship (and I can say I am very proud to have her as my friend). She is very happy in her life which is what I want for my friends. My Dad always said that no one should be alone in their life. And I truly believe that. How people choose to live their life should not be decided by anyone except for that person. I love your family portrait and I am very happy to have stumbled upon your blog!

    Sande

    Reply

    • Hi Sande,

      Thank you for your kind words and for supporting your friend and her partner.

      We need more people like you as friends.

      I’m glad you stumbled upon the blog. How did you find it?

      Have a great weekend.

      Anthony

      Reply

  3. Posted by Sande McAtee on May 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I saw your blog about your dog Abba. I also work at the Quad City Animal Welfare Center. I am a fellow animal lover like you. 🙂

    Reply

  4. Posted by Shane Spellmeyer on October 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    He did leave a key for us, we just have to pick it up and open the door.

    Reply

  5. Shane,

    Most certainly. 🙂

    AP

    Reply

  6. […] Marriage Equality: Is It Simply Black & White? […]

    Reply

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