Monday, January 17, 2011

End Segre(gay)tion!

In honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and MLK Day, it's important to note that civil rights struggles, whether for racial equality or LGBT equality, are all basically the same. MLK himself had a trusted openly gay advisor, Bayard Rustin, who is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States.

Here are some noted leaders of the racial civil rights movement voicing their support for the LGBT civil rights movement.

(Thanks to SoulForce, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Lambda Defense and Education Fund, and Freedom To Marry for information and source references.)

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King was the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a leader in the civil rights movement.

Coretta Scott King
  • "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere' ... I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."1
  • "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."2
  • "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny... I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be," she said, quoting from her husband. "I've always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy."3
  • "Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."4
  • "We have a lot of work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say 'common struggle,' because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry & discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination."5
  • "We have to launch a campaign against homophobia in the black community."6
  • "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."7

1 Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, March 31, 1998

2 Coretta Scott King, speech at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA Today, March 24, 2004

3 Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Sun Times, April 1, 1998

4 Coretta Scott King, 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1998

5 Coretta Scott King, Opening Plenary Session, 13th annual Creating Change conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Atlanta, Georgia, November 9, 2000

6 Coretta Scott King, Reuters, June 8, 2001

7 Coretta Scott King, a speech at the Palmer Hilton Hotel, quoted in the Chicago Defender, April 1, 1998

Julian Bond

Since 1998, Julian Bond has served as Chairman of the Board of the NAACP.

Julian Bond
  • "That's why when I am asked, 'Are gay rights civil rights?' my answer is always, 'Of course they are.'"
  • "Rights for gays and lesbians are not 'special rights' in any way. It isn't "special" to be free from discrimination -- that's an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship."
  • "No parallels between movements for rights is exact. African-Americans are the only Americans who were enslaved for more than two centuries, and people of color carry the badge of who we are on our faces. But we are far from the only people suffering discrimination -- sadly, so do many others. They deserve the law's protection and they deserve civil rights too. Sexual disposition parallels race -- I was born black and I had no choice. I couldn't and wouldn't change if I could. Like race, our sexuality isn't a preference -- it is immutable, unchangeable, and the Constitution protects us against prejudices based on immutable differences."

Julian Bond speaking at the 2008 Creating Change Conference. Bond was a founding member of SNCC in 1960. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he helped organize a sit-in movement at Atlanta University.

Source: Julian Bond's Creating Change 2008 Plenary Speech YouTube video, February 7, 2008. Also available from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as a pdf.

Mildred Loving

Mildred Loving, along with her husband, Richard, were plaintiffs in the historic Supreme Court decision "Loving v. Virginia" which overturned state laws preventing two persons of different races from getting married.

Mildred Loving
  • "Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
  • I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

Source: Loving for All by Mildred Loving, June 12, 2007 (the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia). Available from Freedom to Marry as a pdf.

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