As a country, America is greatly divided over the issue of same-sex marriage.
A recent Washington Post-ABC poll shows Americans are equally divided at 50 percent on whether Americans believe gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will take up the issue to determine if the dozens of states in which voters overwhelmingly approved gay marriage bans are legal.
We believe voters in the states where these bans were voted in should have their voices upheld by the high court, but ultimately it is up to the justices to decide on the constitutionality.
One aspect of the same-sex marriage debate that is a concern and seems insulting to the black community is how some advocates compare the issue to the civil rights movement.
Comments such as these have rightfully brought angry responses from some leaders of the black and gay communities. They believe the struggle for civil rights and the issue of same-sex marriage couldn’t be any more different.
Last year, 110 black pastors filed an amicus brief in Michigan not only opposing same-sex marriage, but in the brief they particularly rejected comparisons between the gay movement and the civil rights movement.
Civil rights activist Rev. William Owens, who is founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, says there is no comparison between the civil rights movement and the gay community’s fight for same-sex marriage.
Even the conservative gay journalist Charles Winecoff once wrote, “Newsflash: blacks in America didn’t start out as hip-hop fashion designers; they were slaves. There’s a big difference between being able to enjoy a civil union with the same sex partner of your choice – and not being able to drink out of a water fountain, eat at a lunch counter, or use a rest room because you don’t have the right skin color.”
Another who tried to compare this to the civil rights movement is Saundra Ardrey, head of the political science department at Western Kentucky University.
Ardrey believes it’s a great issue for the courts to decide and believes it is reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s, when the Supreme Court stepped in to protect African-Americans’ right to vote.
However, voting rights protection for blacks was not given by the Supreme Court, but was rather enacted by Congress in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
To compare the very unfair treatment black Americans had to go through under Jim Crow laws and earlier discrimination in Northern cities to the fight to allow gays the right to get married is just wrong.
Blacks weren’t allowed to use the same bathroom or water fountains as whites, blacks couldn’t eat at the same restaurants as whites, blacks couldn’t attend the same schools as whites, stay at the same hotels as whites, weren’t allowed to live in the same neighborhoods as whites or go to public swimming pools and had to sit in balconies at all white theaters, etc.
Gays are allowed to do everything black people for so long weren’t able to do. How often do you hear stories of gays being denied access to theaters or restaurants, schools or swimming pools because of their sexuality?
That’s the difference. This is why people like Ardrey and others who support same-sex marriage are simply reaching to try to compare their struggle to practices that unjustly oppressed a people for 200-plus years.
These comparisons don’t come close to measuring up. Members of the black community should be offended that people would try to compare legalizing same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement.
We believe those who are doing so are simply trying to advance their agendas.
In doing so, they are wrongfully attempting to equate this effort to the oppression blacks experienced on multiple levels for far too long.