With organizations like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) being intent upon using same-sex marriage as a wedge issue between gay and African-American voters, it’s great to see influential figures within the African-American community stepping up to voice their support for President Obama’s same-sex marriage stance.
Rev. Jesse Jackson (who’s no stranger to controversy), praised President Obama’s decision to support marriage equality, comparing the fight for marriage equality to the African-American fight against slavery and laws restricting interracial marriage.
More after the jump.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Jackson says, "This is a bold step in the right direction for equal protection under the law for all citizens.”
He did however express disappointment that the President didn’t go further. According to the LA Times, “he wished the president had gone further, pushing for federal protection for all citizens instead of leaving the controversial issue of gay marriage up to the states to decide.”
Comparing it to the plight of African-Americans, Jackson maintains that "If the states had to vote on slavery, we would have lost the vote," Jackson said. "If we had to vote on the right [for blacks] to vote, we would have lost that vote."
The increase in African-American leaders and civil rights activists voicing their support for same-sex marriage could prove to be imperative considering the sizeable level of opposition to same-sex marriage that exists within the African-American community. The LA Times notes that African-American voters were “instrumental” to passing North Carolina’s Amendment One this past week. That legislation banned same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Jesse Jackson called on religious leaders nationwide to speak directly with their congregations on the issue. He argues that “gays and lesbians are among the ranks of soldiers dying for their country, the teachers educating the nation's children and even the pastors guiding parishioners through the Bible. It's time to reward gays and lesbians with equal protection.”
He also urged those against marriage equality to remember that “same-sex marriage isn't about taking rights away from anyone else, but rather extending those rights to all.” He also noted “a painful time in America's not-too-distant past when African American men in the South faced swift punishment or even death if they tried to date a white woman, even as white men boldly dated across racial lines.”
Jackson says, "You may choose your mate, but you cannot deny someone else the right to choose their mate. The law protects you from being abused. It doesn't threaten your lifestyle for someone else to have the right to exhibit their lifestyle.”
What do you think, Instincters? Does Jackson make a strong argument?
Do you think those that oppose same-sex marriage within the African-American community will begin to shift their views as more influential figures come forward sharing Jackson’s beliefs?