Over at Pam’s House Blend, Pam Spaulding took NAACP President Benjamin Jealous to task for his recent comments on CNN about the NAACP not getting involved in gay rights issues. Jealous told CNN’s TJ Holmes that the NAACP doesn’t “take a position on that nationally.”
While she called him progressive in his thinking, she argued that Jealous was “getting the message” that gay rights was a “third-rail” issue by the old guard of the NAACP and not a priority.
Arguing that the fight for gay rights is civil rights, Spaulding criticized Jealous and the NAACP for their weak-kneed response, but praised Jealous for at least discussing the issue without malice.
How is marriage itself not a social justice issue? It’s clearly an issue in the black community, given how many out-of-wedlock babies are being born into poverty-stricken situations to single mothers without a father present? Would it not behoove the NAACP national to support marriage equality so that more children can be raised and supported in any loving two-parent homes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity? There are ways to frame this in better terms for the community without rendering black LGBTs in particular, invisible yet again.
I am glad Ben Jealous spoke out in personal, human terms (though he’s clearly not down with terminology; it’s unclear if his friend is transgender and gay, or he’s conflating something, and refers to our relationships and status as “lifestyle decisions”)
All of this, including the issue of hostility towards LGBTs of color in the white LGBT community which Jealous also raises here, needs to be aired out before the people at that conference. The debate and discussion needs to happen in the context of all the other social justice issues of concern to the black community that affects all of the community, not just straight ones (and the ones pretending in the closet).
Historically the NAACP has focused on Civil Rights, but largely only Civil Rights for minorities and specifically the rights of black people. Some would argue that gay rights is a different mantle that the NAACP shouldn’t have to take on, others could easily point out that “gay” knows no race, that there are black homosexuals, and they too deserve the NAACP’s protection and support. Others would argue we shouldn’t be relying on what some view as an antiquated, out-dated organization like the NAACP anyway. Where do you fall? Should the NAACP be expanding its Civil Rights fight to the gay marriage debate? Or is that an area where they should stay out? Or do you think the NAACP is so irrelevant that it doesn’t matter what they do?