By George Dean and Ortensia Lopez
The Greenlining Institute
There has been much teeth-gnashing by political pundits over whether President Obama’s announcement that he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry will hurt him among Black and Latino voters. It won’t, and it shouldn’t.
Rev. Al Sharpton said it clearly: “This is not about mine or anyone’s personal or religious views. It is about equal rights for all. We cannot be selective with civil rights. We must support civil rights for everybody or we don’t support them for anyone.”
“We understand the pain of being disenfranchised simply because of our identity,” Dr. Miguel de la Torre of Denver’s Iliff School of Theology told Huffington Post. “For Hispanics to engage in the oppression of other groups due to their identity makes us no better than those who continuously and historically marginalize us.”
The strategy being pursued by the forces opposed to same-sex marriage was made clear by a series of internal memos from the National Organization for Marriage, obtained by the Human Rights Campaign during a court proceeding and released in March.
“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and Blacks–two key Democratic constituencies,” one memo states. Another discusses recruiting “glamorous” Latino artists and entertainers in order to make heterosexual-only marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.”
Voters of color are too smart to fall for these cheap, divide-and-conquer strategies. We understand that there are political factions cynically seeking to exploit fear of America’s growing diversity, factions whose only hope of success is to pit groups of Americans against each other.
Look at the political forces leading the charge against same-sex marriage. Look at the forces seeking to roll back affirmative action. Look at the forces looking to pass draconian anti-immigrant laws or blame poor people of color for the mortgage meltdown and economic crisis. The cast of characters overlap so much as to be nearly indistinguishable.
This is not an accident. They know what they are doing. And so do we.
The truth is that the president’s statement, while historic, is not enough. Rev. Jesse Jackson was right to express disappointment that President Obama is willing to leave the issue to the states.
If the Black Civil Rights Movement had been content with such a strategy in the 1960s, Jim Crow would have survived far longer than it did. No southern state would have ended forced segregation on its own at the time the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed.
“If the states had to vote on slavery, we would have lost the vote,” Rev. Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. “If we had to vote on the right [for Blacks] to vote, we would have lost that vote.”
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In a memo made public last week, Republican pollster Jan R. van Lohuizen, who worked for President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, wrote, “Polling conducted among Republicans shows that majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians.”
Van Lohuizen urged GOP leaders to back off their opposition to equal treatment for same-sex couples, lest being on the wrong side of history marginalizes them permanently. He sensed the tide turning, something voters of color understand well.
This is the great civil rights struggle of our era. Marriage equality will succeed because we will not let ourselves be divided. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If one of us is not free, then none of us are truly free.”
George Dean and Ortensia Lopez are co-chairs of The Greenlining Institute, www.greenlining.org.
An open letter to President Obama
By Pastor Bobby Scott
Los Angeles Community Bible Church
On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, Mr. President you reversed your position on gay marriage and said, “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
With all due respect, Mr. President, your position to advocate redefining marriage is dangerously wrong. And if I may, please let me, as carefully as I can, clarify my position so that I am not misunderstood as a hate-mongering bigot.
As Dennis Prager has cogently argued, if a group affirms that the ideal for children is to grow up with a father and mother rather than in a single-parent home, that doesn’t mean
*that they hate single moms
*that they demean people who have had a divorce
*that they believe that there is no hope for people raised in single-parent homes
Non-sequitur and ad hominem arguments against advocates of traditional marriage are irresponsible. They vilify people without addressing their concerns while refusing to acknowledge the real consequences of legalizing gay marriage.
The Bible teaches that God made male and female equally in His likeness and different by design so that a male and female could come together as one flesh and procreate. Even atheists agree that marriage must include male and female. Therefore, Christians and non-Christian Americans affirm the timeless definition of marriage. Those affirming marriage between a male and female therefore are not trying to limit anyone’s rights or change anything. They are requiring valid compelling answers to the questions: (1) why change it? and (2) on what basis would a group morally seek to change the definition of marriage?
As proposed by the left, love alone is not enough to validate the radical position of overthrowing the God-given ageless definition of marriage. If love becomes the sole criteria for marriage, then gay marriage advocates are left without any rational argument against keeping mothers from marrying their sons, or three best friends from getting married, or adults from marrying little children, etc.
No one would contend that people who oppose polygamy are hatemongers denying those who advocate polygamy their right to happiness. All societies must place some boundaries around the definition of marriage, and no modern society has so radically sought to alter that definition as America is doing today. Are left thinkers right that there are no fundamental differences in maleness and femaleness, that a male and female bound together in marriage is not the ideal family to procreate and raise children, that having two dads is the same as having a mother and a father? Thankfully, Mr. President, most Americans not only think that you are wrong but know so.
Second, as an African American, I am stunned that you would cloak gay marriage with the heritage of civil rights. The pre-civil rights blind-eyed injustice against Blacks because of the color of their skin is no parallel to the hyper-sensitized legal protections that people who chose to be intimate with someone of the same gender have today. Yes, it is evil when homosexuals are bullied and attacked for being gay, but what court (for that matter job, school, media outlet etc.) in America would not prosecute such perpetrators of that bigotry with anything less than the full weight of the law? How does that remotely compare to the smiling in court, cigar-smoking and celebrating murderers of Emmett Till and the murderous monsters of the four Birmingham girls who walked out of court free? Mr. President, I lament that you have evolved to a marginally defensible position that most Americans rightly reject.
Finally, Mr. President, as a professing Christian you should know the Gospel. God loves homosexuals and heterosexual sinners because He loves sinners. However, God is holy and He does not let sinners of any sort define what is right in their own eyes. God calls all sex outside of the monogamous covenant union of marriage between one man and one woman sin.
Our holy God’s loving response to sinners was to send His Son to pay the debt that we never could pay. So great was His love that Jesus extends His righteousness to all who believe in Him as a gift of His grace. So any heterosexual or homosexual who repents and turns from their sin to trust exclusively in Him, Jesus will save.
Mr. President, I pray that you will see the error of your decision and reaffirm what you once said you believed, and what all the cultures of human history have affirmed, that marriage is the covenant union of a man and a woman designed by God for a lifetime.
Pastor Bobby Scott