Julian Bond last night told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that gay rights are civil rights and all these rights are “exactly the same” and “universal.” Cooper was discussing with Bond this week’s shocking revelation that NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, published in internal memos its “strategic goal” is to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks, two key Democratic constituencies.” Calling that “scary,” Bond, the iconic former chairman of the NAACP, and now its Chairman Emeritus, was speaking about civil rights for the LGBT community in relation to civil rights for the African-American community, and said they are the same.
Dr. Bond, who also was a founder of the illustrious Southern Poverty Law Center, called the revelations of NOM’s strategy, “one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard of or seen.” Bond added, “Now the idea that these people are just pawns that can be played with, the black people who oppose gay marriage, and the black people who support gay marriage, just can be moved around like pieces on a chessboard, it’s just scary.”
Here’s the transcript, via CNN:
COOPER: I want to read you from some of this internal memo from the National Organization for Marriage. They say, “The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks, two key Democratic constituencies.”
They go on to say that they should recruit African-Americans to oppose gay marriage, to serve as spokespeople, and then provoke the gay marriage base into calling those spokespeople bigots, which would then drive a wedge. What do you make of this?
JULIAN BOND, FORMER CHAIRMAN, NAACP: It’s the most — one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard of or seen spelled out in this way. Now the idea that these people are just pawns that can be played with, the black people who oppose gay marriage, and the black people who support gay marriage, just can be moved around like pieces on a chessboard, it’s just scary.
COOPER: They released a statement that said, quote, “Gay marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right. Gay marriage is not a civil right.” You see the push for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans as a civil rights movement?
BOND: Very much so.
COOPER: As an extension of the civil rights movement. BOND: Of course. It is exactly the same. It’s a right that all Americans have, and no reason why gay and lesbian people ought not to have these rights, too. These are universal rights.
COOPER: But to those who say, look, this has nothing to do with civil rights, and there are many African-Americans who actually get offended by the comparison to the civil rights movement, among African-Americans.
BOND: We ought to be happy that other people, including gays and lesbians, and many other people have imitated the black movement for human rights. They’ve adopted our songs; we ought to be happy. They’ve adopted our slogans; we ought to be happy. They’ve adopted the way in which we went about it, in a nonviolent way, generally speaking. We ought to be proud of that, that we served as examples to others.
And when the others imitate what we did to gain their rights, we ought to be first in line to say, “Can I help you. You helped me. Can I help you?”
COOPER: When this memo went out — it was 2009 — polling showed that, among African-Americans, only 32 percent of African-Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage.
There’s a recent NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll that showed 50 percent of African-Americans are now in favor of it. Do you feel like the tide of history is moving in this direction?
BOND: Absolutely. Absolutely. As more and more people think, “Gee, that guy who sits next to me in church, he’s gay, and he seems to be OK. The guy who works next to me on the job, I think he’s gay, and he seems to be OK. So I know all these people who are gay, and they’re all right with me.”
COOPER: Do you think some people who, African-Americans, who do not like the movement for equality being described as a civil rights movement, do you think they feel that that in — somehow takes away from the struggle that African-Americans…
BOND: Yes, I think there’s a — wrongly so. Wrongly so. But I — if they knew that Brian Ruskin (ph), a gay man, was the guy who put together the March on Washington, and it wouldn’t have been the success it was, had it not been for him, I think they’d feel differently about it.
If they knew that throughout the history of the black struggle for civil rights, black and white and Asian and Latino gay people and lesbians participated and sacrificed alongside their black brothers and sisters, I think they’d feel differently about it.
Because this is not — we don’t have a patent on rights in this country. Black people don’t have a patent on fighting for civil rights. This is something all Americans want to do and should do. And we ought to be proud that others have imitated us. COOPER: It’s interesting to me that in the past, you have not had a lot of straight people championing this cause, and yet you have, sometimes at great — you’ve received a lot of criticism for it.
BOND: Yes, I have. But I think, you know, I served in the civil right movements beside black people and white people, and gay people and lesbian people, and I often thought to myself, these people are helping me. Can I help them? Shouldn’t I help them?
And when the gay movement, which is an old movement in this country, became more and more prominent, and it became something that people like myself, straight people, could join in and participate, I was eager to play whatever part I could. Because this is something, I think, important to all of us. I don’t care if you’re gay or straight. This is something you ought to be concerned about.
COOPER: Just on another topic, I’d just like to get your thought on the shooting of Trayvon Martin. What is your impression of what happened and of the debate that’s…
BOND: I can only go by what I read in the papers or see on TV, that what seemed to happen is this police wannabe followed him, against the orders of the police, got out of his car, confronted him in some way. We don’t know what happened then.
But we do know that Martin is dead. He’s shot in the chest. He’s killed. And I can’t imagine what he might have done or could have done that would make that happen, that would prompt that. That would make that excusable.
COOPER: Julian Bond, thanks for being on.
BOND: Thank you.
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