America’s oldest civil rights organization, in a near unanimous vote Saturday, came out for marriage equality.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) described the vote as “a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the 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.
The vote follows President Obama’s May 9 statement of support for gay marriage. Since that day, among those expressing support have been Will Smith, Jay-Z and Floyd Mayweather.
Last week, a coalition of black civil rights leaders signed their names to a letter backing the President’s stand. Signatories include Dr. Joseph Lowery, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Melanie Campbell, of the National Coalition for Black Civic Engagement; Julian Bond, of the NAACP; and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Lowery is the founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Black Leadership Conference. He led the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks’ protest and led the Selma To Montgomery march ten years later. He is regarded as the Dean of the civil rights movement.
Four years ago, he was uncertain about marriage equality, saying:
I’ve never said I support gay marriage. I support gay rights and I support civil unions. Like a whole lot of people, I have some difficulty with the term gay marriage. Because deep in my heart, deeply rooted in my heart and mind, marriage is associated with man and woman. So I have a little cultural shock with that. But I certainly support civil unions, and that gay partners ought to have all the rights that any other citizens have in this country.
Last week he appeared on Rev. Al Sharpton’s show saying:
Frankly I couldn’t imagine myself denying a right to my neighbor that I enjoy myself. We cant believe in equal rights for some but not for others, it’s an oxymoron.
As Rev. Martin Luther King said, ‘injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.’
Watch Dr. Lowery:
Eyes will now be on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was co-founded by gay organizer Bayard Rustin, but threatened to fire SCLC/LA President Rev. Eric Lee over his opposition to Prop 8 and support of marriage equality. In 2011, SCLC’s General Counsel Dexter M. Wimbish was asked by LGBTPOV about Lee’s situation and the organization’s professed “neutrality” over marriage equality. Wimbish said:
“I personally understand that position. I imagine that in the 1960s the same argument was made about why some organizations were ‘neutral’ about segregation, for instance. But this organization is not at a point where it will take a public position on the issue. It just means that inside the organization and outside, we have work to do. This is Dr. King’s organization and personally, I would hope that we can come together to dialogue and address those issues.”
Picture by yufujamar