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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for June, 2012

Anti-Gay Preacher quits NAACP

Timothy Kincaid

June 7th, 2012

Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines and president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, just simply cannot be in the same country club as Jews.

Oh, wait, I read that wrong. He can’t belong to any organization that lets black people come in the front door.

Ooops, that’s not it. No, he can’t work for any firm that has a woman in an executive role.

Well good heavens, that’s not right either. Wait, wait, I’ve got it. Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines and president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, just simply cannot belong to an organization that supports the rights of gay people to marry.

So the good reverend will be showing his love for God by resigning from the NAACP (buncha damn homo-lovers). Cuz it’s what Jesus would do, ya know.

NAACP Board Approves Statement Supporting Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2012

The Board of Directors of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), has just approved the following resolution:

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.

The resolution drew only two opposing votes on the 64-member board.

Karen Ocamb celebrates and adds:

Now it’s the turn of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was co-founded by gay organizer Bayard Rustin, but threatened to fire SCLC/LA President Rev. Eric Lee over his opposition to Prop 8 and support of marriage equality. When I interviewed SCLC’s General Counsel Dexter M. Wimbish in July 2011 about Lee’s situation and the organization’s professed “neutrality” over marriage equality. Wimbish said: “I personally understand that position. …But this organization is not at a point where it will take a public position on the issue. It just means that inside the organization and outside, we have work to do.”

NAACP Responds to NOM’s Race-Baiting Tactics

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2012

The NAACP issued a press release in response to the release of secret strategy documents from the National Organization for Marriage as part of an ongoing campaign finance investigation by the state of Maine. Those documents revealed that NOM sought to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African-Americans (as well as between LGBT African-Americans and their own families). The NAACP responded:

After learning of the content of the documents, Dr. Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, released this statement a short time ago through HRC.

“NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination,” said Dr. Bond. “Pitting bigotry’s victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together.”

Dr. Bond is the first among a forthcoming list of leaders, jointly compiled by HRC and the Center for American Progress, who are speaking out against NOM’s plans to fight marriage equality and create racial divisions in order to do so.

NAACP’s North Carolina Chapter Denounces Proposed Marriage Ban

Jim Burroway

September 15th, 2011

The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP has issued an open letter denouncing the proposed constitutional amendment banning all same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships which goes before voters in May 2012. Says the NAACP:

A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.

…The NAACP strongly urges you to reject the so-called same sex amendment and any other present or future proposals of constitutional amendments that would permanently deprive any person in our great state of his or her inalienable rights

Taking the NAACP seriously?

Timothy Kincaid

August 2nd, 2011

Last Monday, the NAACP held its first ever town hall meeting on LGBT issues as part of their Annual National Convention. No More Downlow was there.

The debate got heated when the current NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous is asked by our executive producer Earnest Winborne, “How can the LGBT community take the NAACP seriously, when its current board members are out saying that gay rights are not civil rights” – referring to current NAACP board member Rev. Keith Ratliff recent statement “Gay community stop hijacking the civil rights movement.”

Mr. Jealous responded saying the gay community should take the NAACP seriously because the NAACP was there with the Human Rights Campaign helping to pass the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. The NAACP were champions of fighting Prop 8 in California as well as fighting alongside the LGBT community in Maine, Massachusetts, in Washington D.C. and in Maryland, and in other places. Jealous also said the LGBT community needed to do more ground work in the black community and not come late in the game with an expectation. He also said the black community needed to be treated with the same respect as the other allies of the LGBT community

Rather than discuss Ben Jealous’ answer, I want to make three observations.

One: I may be mistaken, and I am no weather-vane for any social trends, but I believe that I have seen a change in the way that bloggers, writers, and commentators within the black community have been discussing gay people and, more importantly, responding to those who do make slurs. I’ll leave it to those who have a better sense of the community, but it may be that a breakthrough is coming.

Two: The problem is not limited to a lack of support for gay issues in the African American community. Equally concerning are issues of racism and exclusion in the gay community. We, all of us, whatever race, ethnicity, religion, orientation, gender, or whatever need to look more for ways of seeing each other as “just like me” instead of letting our insecurities drive us into looking for differences and ways to separate. But we must also be careful that “just like me” doesn’t erase concern for each others’ real and unique challenges.

Three: In this discussion, let us never forget that “they” are already “us”. We have strong intelligent effective gay men and women who are not always valued due to prejudices that we may not even know we hold. Those who walk with a foot in two communities because of their race, religion, political ideology or other separation deserve respect. They’ve proven themselves and fought for our community and often been rewarded by being treated as the scapegoat. We, as a community, have to stop that.

Iowa’s NAACP president: civil rights for me, but not for thee

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2011

Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, is the president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP. He’s also an anti-gay activist who takes his opposition to gay equality so seriously that in last year’s gubernatorial election he endorsed Republican Bob Vander Plaats, who made opposition to equality his signature position.

Ratlif had a few choice things to say this week to a rally organized by Vander Plaats to stir up anti-gay sentiment. (Iowa Independent)

“For the few victories that the gay community is claiming,” Ratliff said, “they have won it mostly based on the hijacking of them trying to parallel themselves on the backs of the civil rights movement, here in America.”

He said their is “no parallel” of what an “insult” it was for them to compare themselves with the civil rights movement.

Ratliff, of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, said not being able to marry a person of the same gender was no where near what it’s like to be denied service in a restaurant or hotel for the color of their skin.

How sad that Ratliff has been subjected to the insult of gay people thinking that they were equal to him. But while it may make me seem uppity, perhaps Mr. Ratliff needs a history lesson.

You see it was in 1965 that the state of Iowa banned racial discrimination in service at restaurants and hotels, but it was perfectly legal to deny gay people those exact same services until four years ago.

And there are more than a few readers who could give personal testimony to experiencing exactly the same treatment to which Ratliff thinks there is “no parallel.” Except they had no recourse. It was perfectly legal.

I don’t pretend that racial discrimination is identical to anti-gay discrimination. There are differences and subtleties that are better discussed by those who have experienced both and I’ve heard good argument why either was painful than the other. Nor do I deceive myself into thinking that racism ended in Iowa in 1965. However, I do know that civil rights are those to which each person is entitled from their government without arbitrary denial and that discrimination is ugly and cruel.

And I know that anti-gay bigotry looks just like all other bigotry: the smirk which says that the most despicable and characterless of the “acceptable” race or gender or religion or orientation will always be better than you based on a scale that has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with unearned presumptions of superiority.

Yet while it is foolish and pointless to pit victims of bigotry against each other as though injustice and indignity against one is acceptable because someone else ‘had it worse’, if Ratliff’s wants to compete in the Oppression Olympics on “not being able to marry” and “being denied service in a restaurant or hotel” then he loses and the gay community takes gold. In our lifetime, we’ve known both.

Julian Bond: LGBT Rights Won’t Be Won Until Black Homophobia Is Diminished

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2009

Pam Spalding posted a lengthy discussion of LGBT advocacy in the African-American community. The entire post is well worth reading, along with this email she received from Julian Bond, Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He sees the critical element in that is for more Black people to come out of the closet:

I do not believe the battle for LGBT rights will ever be won until we can diminish the homophobia in black communities and until more in the black LGBT community join the battle openly.  …I’ve often wondered what would be the result of black LGBT church goers standing up in the churches they attend and saying “I’m gay – you know me – I’m like you. I am what God made me. Why do you treat me so badly?”

Obama To NAACP: “Our Gay Brothers And Sisters Still Denied Their Rights”

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2009
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Cincinnati NAACP appoints anti-gay activist to board

Gabriel Arana

March 26th, 2009

Cincinnati’s NAACP chapter is concerned with equal rights — but just for some. The chapter’s NAACP board president Christopher Smitherman recently appointed anti-gay legal activist Chris Finney to its board, a decision the president, who has a gay brother, vigorously defended in CityBeat:

Chris Finney has done a fabulous job for the NAACP over the last two years … I cannot be concerned with the interests of any other constituency group. I must look out for the interests of our membership.

Finney is perhaps best known as the author of “Article 12,” a 1993 amendment to the city’s charter that prohibited passing anti-discrimination legislation that included sexual minorities. The amendment, which cost the city $45 million in lost convention revenues, was repealed in 2004.

During an Article 12-related court hearing in 1994, Finney was asked why sexual orientation should figure into employment decisions or public accommodations, like who gets to eat at a restaurant. According to CityBeat, he responded:

Because there may be some who don’t want their family dining next to a homosexual couple whose actions they find offensive.

Finney has also stated that he believes landlords should be able to deny housing to gays and lesbians.

Besides being hypocritical, the actions of local NAACP activists are strikingly out of step with the organization’s national leadership, which has strongly condemned anti-gay legislation like Prop. 8 in California. Smitherman appears to think that the actions of Cincinnati’s NAACP should only concern themselves with the plight of African Americans and not “any other constituency group.”

As a response, I would turn to an oft-quoted passage in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from Birmingham jail:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Thanks to Will Kohler at back2stonewall.com for alerting us to the story. The contact information for Cincinnati’s chapter of the NAACP is available here if you want to express your concern over their hiring of Chris Finney.

NAACP Calls For Prop 8 to Be Overturned

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2009

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has joined the California chapter in calling for Proposition 8 to be overturned:

“The NAACP’s mission is to help create a society where all Americans have equal protection and opportunity under the law,” said President [Benjamin Todd] Jealous. “Our Mission Statement calls for the ‘equality of rights of all persons.’ Prop. 8 strips same-sex couples of a fundamental freedom, as defined by the California State Supreme Court. In so doing, it poses a serious threat to all Americans. Prop. 8 is a discriminatory, unprecedented change to the California Constitution that, if allowed to stand, would undermine the very purpose of a constitution and courts – assuring equal protection and opportunity for all and safeguarding minorities from the tyranny of the majority.”

…”The NAACP has long opposed any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any groups or individuals from guarantees of equal protection,” said Chairman [Julian] Bond. “We urge the legislature to declare that Proposition 8 did not follow the proper protective process and should be overturned as an invalid alteration that vitiated crucial constitutional safeguards and fundamental American values, threatening civil rights and all vulnerable minorities.”

The NAACP statement urges passage of House Resolution 5 and Senate Resolution 7, which would put the legislature on record as viewing Prop. 8 as an improper alteration of the California Constitution. The question is currently before the California Supreme Court, which is expected to hear arguments on March 5.