The Black Divide: African-Americans Who Refuse to Support Equal Marriage Rights for Gays and Lesbians Are Shoving Their Own History Back into the Closet

By Ehrenstein, David | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), April 27, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Black Divide: African-Americans Who Refuse to Support Equal Marriage Rights for Gays and Lesbians Are Shoving Their Own History Back into the Closet


Ehrenstein, David, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


It certainly looks as if Republican mastermind Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, has found his "wedge issue"--at least as far ms African-Americans are concerned. Gay marriage, the sensation that's sweeping the nation from San Francisco to New Paltz, appears to have split black America right down the middle.

"I'm offended that they're comparing this to civil rights," says the Reverend Jeffrey Brown, a Baptist minister from Massachusetts, the epicenter of the same-sex marriage battle. "Marriage is not a civil right, and the struggle of gay and lesbian people cannot be compared to the struggle of blacks." Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson has called any attempt to parallel the gay marriage movement with the African-American struggle "offensive" and declared the civil rights movement to be "not about sex."

By contrast, author, lecturer, and frequent op-ed commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson told ABCNews.com, "When African-Americans say, 'Wait a minute, we are going to discriminate against you; we, in fact, don't see you as equal to us,' that is a dangerous, dangerous slope that you're going down." Likewise, the Reverend Ron Sailor, a minister and a Georgia state legislator, says, "Discrimination--whether it shows up in African-Americans versus white Americans 60 years ago or whether it shows against homosexual people today--is wrong." On March 23, testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Bush's proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, U.S. representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, called Bush's push for the antigay amendment "an irrational and radical step that seeks to undermine the civil rights of our citizen." And one day later, Martin Luther King's widow, Coretta Scott King, tom a New Jersey audience, "A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

While the three largest associations of black ministers in the Boston area have held news conferences in front of the statehouse denouncing same-sex marriage, state representative Byron Rushing, a black Episcopalian, has called the argument that gays were never enslaved and therefore should not be compared with blacks "illogical." He continues, "These black clergy have redefined civil rights to say that it includes black people only. I'm not saying the experience of African-Americans was the same as gays and lesbians, though there are similarities."

And that in turn leads to what might well be the last straw. The Reverend Jesse Jackson--while visiting Harvard University for a recent event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that separate schools were inherently unequal--called the comparison of the two movements "a stretch" because "gays were never called three-fifths human ha the Constitution."

Being gay, black, politically active, and 57 years of age, it behooves me to remind the good reverend that he wouldn't be speaking at Harvard, or anywhere else for that matter, were it not for a gay black man named Bayard Rustin. A far more important leader in the civil rights movement than Jackson ever was, Rustin planned the historic 1963 March on Washington and stood right next to Martin Luther King Jr. when the great man delivered the "I have a dream" speech, the most famous oration since the Gettysburg Address.

Jackson and other gay rights detractors would likewise do well to remember the pivotal role played in the civil rights movement by a gay African-American writer named James Baldwin, whose novel Another Country and essay "The Fire Next Time" were the most widely read texts of the civil rights era.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Black Divide: African-Americans Who Refuse to Support Equal Marriage Rights for Gays and Lesbians Are Shoving Their Own History Back into the Closet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.