The NAACP, America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, today announced its board of directors has decided to support officially same-sex marriage. Fresh on the heels of Barack Obama’s historic announcement of same-sex marriage support, a number of famous African-Americans have joined the President in announcing support for marriage equality, including today rapper 50 Cent.
“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” NAACP president Benjamin Jealous said in a statement this afternoon. “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. The well-funded right-wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed.”
The Washington Post adds:
The decision has political implications for President Obama, who needs an enthusiastic turnout from black voters to help him win reelection in November but angered some African-American church pastors with his announcement this month that he believes gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.
The NAACP now presents itself as a counterbalance to the influence of the traditionally socially conservative black church. It can also help establish closer ties between blacks and gays, two of Obama’s most loyal constituencies.
Some pro-Republican conservative evangelical activists have said Obama’s announcement gives them an unusual opportunity to deflate enthusiasm among black voters for reelecting the country’s first black president, who tends to win more than 90 percent support in that community.
A new poll just released this week found that President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage equality is actually more popular among Blacks and Hispanics than among whites. Overall, 45% of whites view the President’s support of marriage equality favorably, while 47% of Hispanics do, and 54% of Blacks do as well.
The NAACP’s board position statement reads:
The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the ‘political, education, social and economic equality’ of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.
Evan Wolfson, Founder and President, Freedom to Marry, said in a statement:
The NAACP has long been the nation’s conscience and champion for an America where all share equally in the promise of liberty and justice for all. Today the NAACP resoundingly affirmed that the freedom to marry is a civil right and family value that belongs to all of us, and that discriminatory barriers to marriage must fall. The toxic tactics of anti-gay groups like NOM to ‘drive a wedge between blacks and gays’ will be washed away in the wave of righteous affirmation.
“We could not be more pleased with the NAACP’s history-making vote today – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “It’s time the shameful myth that the African-American community is somehow out of lockstep with the rest of the country on marriage equality is retired – once and for all. The facts and clear momentum toward marriage speak for themselves.”
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, announced:
This is truly a historic moment as the NAACP — the nation’s oldest civil rights organization — takes an official and unequivocal stand for marriage equality. As the country’s oldest national LGBT rights group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force could not be more thrilled.
We are also not surprised by the leadership exhibited once again by the NAACP. Just a few months ago, NAACP President Ben Jealous stood before 3,000 LGBT rights activists at our Creating Change Conference and spoke powerfully and poignantly about the ties of conscience and courage that bind us. ‘The NAACP and the LGBT movement have fought together for social justice since Bayard Rustin planned the March on Washington in 1963,” he told the crowd. ‘He was a black gay hero who wrote the textbook on mobilizing the masses for jobs and freedom.’
We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NAACP working together on the many issues that affect all of our lives. Whether it be fair access to education and jobs, an end to voter suppression and racial profiling, the right to love and be who we are free of discrimination — these issues affect all of us, our families and our country. Today the NAACP did what it does so well — inspires and affirms our common humanity.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, was formed in 1909 and states as its vision “to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.”
Image: Openly gay actress Wanda Sykes, NAACP President Emeritus Julian Bond, NAACP President Ben Jealous and openly gay CNN anchor Don Lemon at NAACP’s first LGBT Town Hall in August 2011 in Los Angeles. By Karen Ocamb of LGBT POV.
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