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?