Gay rights activists are denouncing an anti-gay-marriage march that starts near the tomb of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as an effort to hijack the slain civil rights leader's legacy. The march, set for Saturday, December 11, is being organized by the predominantly black 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church of suburban Atlanta, whose pastor, Bishop Eddie Long, opposes gay marriage and counsels gay members to abandon their orientation.
The church's Web site said one of the march's goals is to promote a constitutional amendment to "fully protect marriage between one man and one woman." A quote from King appears on the site where details of the march are posted, and marchers are instructed to gather at the King Center, the memorial where he is buried. "To march from the King Center against the rights of gays is a slap in the face to the legacy of Dr. King," said Keith Boykin, president of the National Black Justice Coalition, a gay activist group. "Dr. King said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, but Bishop Long seems to think that injustice against gays and lesbians is perfectly fine."
In a statement Long said the march "was not derived out of an idea to protest same-sex marriage, but to present a unified vision of righteousness and justice." He said the march also seeks to promote education reform, affordable health care, and programs that create wealth for minorities. Rosalind McGinnis, managing director of the King Center, said the organization is not endorsing the march. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, has called same-sex marriage a civil rights issue and denounced proposed amendments to ban it. Last month state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage were approved in 11 states, including Georgia.