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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Black Leaders Confront Anti-gay Activism in the Black Church


(Dallas, Texas) Prominent black leaders said they will work to combat Christian conservatives they say have used gay marriage and abortion to distract from larger moral issues such as the war, voting rights, affirmative action and poverty.

The Revs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Joseph Lowery and hundreds of black leaders from around the country are focusing on mobilizing black voters for the fall elections. They kicked off a three-day black clergy conference Monday in Dallas.

"There are no gay people coming to our churches asking to get married," Sharpton said. "But there are plenty of people coming with problems voting or their sons in jail."

Sharpton said tours are planned of swing states starting in July to bring out black voters and push Democrats to take a tougher stand on social justice issues.

Jackson said the mid-term elections, which will determine hundreds of congressional seats and many governorships, are a "fight for America's soul."

If Democrats fail to address social concerns, Sharpton said he has not ruled out a run for president in 2008.

A spokesman for evangelical conservatives accused Sharpton of stereotyping Christian conservatives, many of whom agree with black churchgoers on key issues.

Pam Spaulding comments:

You see what's going on here, right? Sharpton knows better, but he's using the same Dem dodge -- he's not making a case for why the homobigotry is wrong, only that gay issues are a smokescreen distracting the average black voter from "more important" matters.

I don't have a problem with leveraging the failure of this Administration into votes (it's provided a mile-long list of outrages), but it's clear, based on the level of homophobia, that voters can and do need leadership and framing on this issue to combat the bible-beating right wing. A significant portion of voters do need to hear from leadership that state amendments and measures to restrict gay adoption/fostering rights, for example, play upon the fears and worst aspects of people -- they are wrong -- and it's the conservative evangelical movement that has lead the way in fear-mongering.

We, as individual out gays and lesbians make a difference in changing hearts and minds by living our lives, but when religious leadership continually deflects the issue away from why the position of the evangelical right on gay civil equality is morally wrong, it's a lost opportunity and a clear signal to the bigots that support on the center-left for LGBT citizens is wavering at best.

Lowery and Sharpton have, to date, been quite supportive of civil equality. It's no surprise that media hogging, self-aggrandizing Jackson, however, would punt on the issue. In 2004 supported "equal protection under the law" for gay couples, but does not support SSM -- he believes "In my culture, marriage is a man-woman relationship."

Jesse Jackson doesn't have much moral authority to talk about the "sanctity of marriage".

I expect this kind of dodge of the issue from Democrats (though in the end, I don't think it's effective. Look what happened with the Kerry campaign). What I have heard is that the black churches here in Minnesota are getting tired of outsiders trying to whip up division within the church about the gay marriage issue. Currently the outsiders who are doing that are Minnesotans for Marriage and groups like that.

What bothers me is when the Gay Advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign uses that language when discussing the issue in the mainstream media. Joe Salmonese has a rare opportunity to be quoted widely by the national media, and he blows it by parroting the Democratic Talking points. That's why I am not donating to the Human Rights Campaign right now. It will be interesting to see what Salmonese does when the house takes up the vote on the matter later this summer.