Maryland Coalition Strives to Increase African-American Support Statewide for Gay Marriage

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Required reading in Wednesday’s New York Times reported on a coalition working to bring more black voters in Maryland to a pro-gay-marriage mindset — the Human Rights Campaign and the Service Employees International Union trains focus on African American Democrats, whose high-population support is essential for the passage of a bill to legalize gay marriage, now headed to the state legislature.  

“The campaign includes videos of well-known African-American Marylanders, including Michael Kenneth Williams, an actor from the television series ‘The Wire,’ and Mo’nique, a Baltimore-born actress; an editorial in The Afro; and conversations in churches and union halls, where most members are black,” reports Sabrina Tavernise in her thorough NYTimes piece.

Tavernise recounts a Washington Post poll from last month which reported that 71 percent of white Maryland Democrats support gay marriage, which only 41 percent of black Maryland Democrats are pro-same-sex union. (Shocking, no?)

The coalition may or may not succeed in shifting the bias of a certain slice of the black community historically opposed to homosexuality, usually on religious grounds. Last year, several black churches joined forces to launch the Maryland Marriage Alliance, their own coalition to fight the gay marriage bill — the massive Maryland Catholic Conference is on board, too.

So, it’s really uplifting to read in this article about activists like the Rev. Larry Brumfield, an African-American pastor in Baltimore, who speaks out regularly on his radio program about gay rights, aiming to be “extra vocal” to change people’s minds and help change the law.

“It really bothers me how black people can be so insensitive to oppression,” he said in the NYTimes story. “They use the same arguments that were used against us by the segregationists in the 1950s.”

It bothers us, too — in fact, the situation outright confounds us. In our view, homophobia is absolutely identical to racism and sexism. Haven’t we all learned anything from the civil rights movement? Why doesn’t a larger portion of the Democratic African American community feel compelled to empathize with a minority making brave strides in the name of basic equality? And if the Human Rights Campaign fails to sway enough black voters, will Obama feel comfortable supporting gay marriage with maximum courage? What are your thoughts on the issue, readers?

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  1. It astounds me when I read that the majority of African Americans polled are against the legalization of gay marriage after they have battled for civil rights for their entire lives here in America. I read some great words by Rev. Barber, the N.C. NAACP president. He said “A vote for the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal opinion- but whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally”. To vote for allowing gay marriage doesn’t mean you find it morally acceptable, but it means that your support civil rights and an individual’s right to follow their own heart and beliefs.
    When Obama won the election I was so excited to think that America was on the road to being a more all-inclusive society…accepting others for who they were and not judging by race, religion or sexual orientation. I am a married heterosexual and cannot even begin to fathom how people can say a gay marriage would somehow destroy the sanctity of marriage. Does my cheating coworkers destroy the sanctity of my marriage? Does the fact that this is my second marriage destroy the sanctity of my marriage? Does my bi-racial married neighbors destroy the sanctity of my marriage? Does my friends who married after living together 10 years so they could share health insurance affect the sanctity of my marriage? No…. my marriage, is my marriage. What others do is their business and I support all of their rights to make these choices. I hope your readers can also support civil rights for all.

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