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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Anti-gay Black Ministers in Indiana Pray Against Gay Rights

Pam Spaulding has the story. Keith Boykin has a post discussing whether civil rights for African Americans and gay rights can be compared. Keith makes the standard argument to a leftist audience.

"Can you compare civil rights with gay rights?" That's the question a young student at Vassar College asked me Monday night after I spoke at the school. "Of course you can," I told her. "The problem is that when people hear 'compare' that think they hear 'equate' and black people are reluctant to equate the civil rights movement with the gay rights movement." But to compare simply means to look at the similarities and differences, and on that score, we absolutely can and should compare the civil rights movement with the gay rights movement.

One of the principal arguments raised against comparing black suffering with gay suffering is the red herring that gays did not have to sit in the back of the bus in the same way that gays did. Well, not exactly. Of course gays had to sit in the back of the bus because some gays were black. Bayard Rustin was a black gay man, and one of Dr. King's closest advisers, and he too was forced to sit in the back of the bus. The simplistic reductionist view that seeks to create a wedge between sexuality and race ignores the reality that some blacks are gay and some gays are black.

But there's a larger issue here too. Why does it matter if gays had to sit in the back of the bus? We don't tell Latinos or Native Americans or people with disabilities or women or any other oppressed group that they have to prove their suffering is identical to black suffering in order to be legitimate. Nor are we concerned with which group is worse off in the artificially constructed hierarchy of oppression when we talk about other minorities.

The point is it doesn't matter which group is most oppressed or which was first oppressed or whether they are identically oppressed. What matters is that no group of people should be oppressed. But the more we focus on the hierarchy of difference, the less we focus on the actual oppression.

Actually, people forget that many black civil rights leaders often opined against women's rights using many of the same arguments that are now used to argue against gay equality. I actually don't think the point is to "focus on the actual oppression," but rather to work against government sponsored discrimination. That's why I think the issue of marriage equality, and allowing gays to serve in the military are my top priority federal issues, rather than federal non-discrimination law (which exempts the government sponsored discrimination in the military) and hate crimes laws (which I oppose). I also find it totally ironic that so-called "conservative christians" are pushing for a place on the "who is most oppressed" totem pool. You also see this in the whining about "viewpoint discrimination" against conservatives on campuses. I have no sympathy for that nonsense.

Keith also has a post about the National Black Justice Coalition teaming up with Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan has a long history of making visciously anti-semetic, homophobic and misogynist comments. I agree with this commenter:

Keith, Please!
Will you have some respect for yourself and stop crying over Louis Farrakhan.
If he wanted you to have anything with the MMM movement, nothing would have stopped him, not even Willie Wilson. There is no love for gays in The Nation of Islam. Everybody knows that.

In 2004, Mr Farrakhan went to the Black Entertainment Television Source Awards. The Man was greeted by the infamous Suge Knight, head of Death Row Records. We know what type of person Suge Knight is and the criminal activity associated with Death Row Records . Farrakhan told the rappers that they were the future of the Black America, which is frightening considering that many of them have legal problems, not to mention the drug and moral issues they have. They also can't talk more than 20 seconds at a time without cursing either. Keith, why in the would would you want to be associated with that mess?

You are a classy guy and have a lot going for you. I don't always agree with you, especially politically, but I have much respect for you. I just wish that you had enough respect for yourself to associate with someone who actually wants to be around you instead of begging to be around someone who doesn't.

Yes, it's sad that Louis Farrakhan would rather stand on stage with murders and drug dealers turned rappers than a respectable gay man such as yourself, but that's the we he is.

Move on, you're better than that.
Posted by: Texas76132 at December 1, 2005 01:24 PM

Another commenter, cmoney agrees:

How unfortunate that you guys are still sucking up to Farrakhan and his ilk. I know the NBJC seeks to make coalitions with others in furtherance of its goals but sometimes you have to draw the line. How many times are you going to be screwed by Farrakhan before you figure out that he's unworthy of our "adoration"? It hasn't even been two months since the Millions More (dollars) Movement fiasco and here you go again. I wonder if the Nation of Islam is featuring this partnership with Black gays on their website. Put on your flea collars!
Posted by: cmoney at December 1, 2005 09:31 AM

Others disagreed:

It's good to know that wounds can heal when we are determined to work together. I just wonder if this will get as much press as unpleasant events that reinforce negative sterotypes. I am looking forward to seeing the outcomes of these forward-thinking partnerships. Please share what looks to be coming months of pleasant surprises with us!
Posted by: at November 30, 2005 11:35 PM

This reminds me of the internal debates in Log Cabin Republicans about how to deal with George Bush.

I find it ironic that Keith Boykin once wrote a very mean piece attacking Robert Traynham, a black gay man who is Rick Santorum's spokesperson. While I strongly oppose Rick Santorum, I was impressed that Santorum immediately defended Traynham, when he was outed.

But Traynham is not one of those black gay Republicans who is challenging his party on their racism and homophobia. No, instead he's defending the party and its most vocal bigots. The only reason we know of Traynham's sexual orientation is because he was outed.

Traynham reportedly acknowledged his homosexuality in a recent interview with and PageOneQ. Then, when asked whether he supported the Senator's stands on lesbian and gay issues, Traynham abruptly ended the phone call by saying "Senator Santorum is a family man. I have been with Senator Santorum for eight years and I am very proud to be with him," the websites reported. Traynham responded to subsequent questions by hanging up the phone on the reporter.

That's understandable. How could he, as a gay man, possibly defend the vicious anti-gay hatred from his own boss. "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery," Senator Santorum said in an interview two years ago. Later in the same interview, Santorum said marriage is a bond between a man and a woman. "That's not to pick on homosexuality," he said. "It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

Traynham seems to have learned well from his boss. Speaking at Harvard University two years ago, Traynham managed to defend the confederate flag and offend transgenders in one speech. "Those who are romantic about the Confederate flag, that's our base," the black Republican said. Traynham also compared his experience as a black Republican at a historically black college to the experience of some in the transgendered community. "I was looked at like I was a transsexual," he said in his remarks.

Like so many other confused black or gay conservatives I have met, Traynham tries to deny the importance of race or sexuality in his life. "The only time I think about being an African-American is when I get up in the morning to shave, when I look in the mirror," Traynham told the Harvard students.

Well, sorry Mr. Traynham, but look again. Are you sure you see a black man there at all?

After I read, Keith's post, I sent a supportive email to Traynham. I told him, I strongly opposed and was appalled by his boss, but didn't hold him responsible for his bosses positions. Traynham wrote me back, thanking me for my email.