Originally published on Advocate.com December 10 2003 12:00 AM ET
A nationwide campaign to generate black support for same-sex marriage and to fight against the recently proposed Federal Marriage Amendment was announced on Monday by the National Black Justice Coalition, a group of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered African-American community leaders. During a news conference in Washington, D.C., leaders of the group vowed to engage all major national black political leaders and civil rights leaders as well as many of the nation's black religious leaders to support their campaign. The group also called on all black civil rights organizations and political leaders to take a strong position against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would ban gay marriage nationwide.
The campaign closely follows statements by black Republicans and clerics denouncing gay rights organizations for comparing their movement to the black struggle for civil rights. "The right-wing fired the first shots in this battle, but today we fire back," said coalition member Donna Payne. "We will not allow the out-of-touch radical right to divide the black community on this issue."
"African-Americans support civil rights for all Americans," added coalition member Keith Boykin, "and our judgment will not be clouded by the smoke and mirrors of a few vocal opponents."
A poll released in November by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that African-Americans oppose gay marriage by a 2 to 1 ratio. A separate study released in 2000 by the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reported that one fifth of respondents to its Black Pride Survey had negative experiences in the black community, and nearly half--43%--had a negative experience with a black church.
To generate support for their effort, the coalition plans to raise $100,000 for advertisements in the black media, a new Web site to counter right-wing misinformation about blacks and same-sex marriage, and future press conferences to announce new supporters of the campaign. Coretta Scott King, Rep. John Lewis, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, the Reverend Al Sharpton, Whoopi Goldberg, and several other key African-American public figures have already come out in favor of same-sex marriage, the coalition said. The group plans to announce major new supporters in the coming months.