This weekend the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrated its 100th anniversary. This is a very proud distinction for the NAACP has stood on the right side of equality for many years and has been a voice for many who had no one to speak up for them, in doing so they remain a recognizable and stallwarth organization. With the highlight of the 100th anniversary and the climate of the current day the issue of gay rights of which marriage equality is at the forefront. The NAACP’s current president, Ben Jealous has stated in a recent CNN interview that the NAACP does not take an official policy on gay marriage. The organization refuses to take a national stance because as Mr. Jealous noted, it has polarized and broken apart other organizations when that has been done. Or in other words this is such a hot bed issue that it is not worth risking the future of the organization. However, they do plan to continue to fight for the other broader rights that same gender loving (SGL) men and women have to contend with (i.e. hate crimes, discrimination, etc.)
While Julian Bond, NAACP Chair, has come out publically in support of marriage equality he has also stated that this is not an issue that the NAACP would support from a platform basis. I find all of this very interesting and do not discount or shun any advances or hard work that I have benefited from by that of the NAACP as an African American man. However, I feel a little disconnected and disappointed that while the NAACP has publicly stated that marriage equality is a civil right, however, it appears that this is one civil right that is not important enough to stand in public defense of. I say this because while I was born an African American I was also born same gender loving. I do not, like most separate my ethnicity from my emotional orientation.
Mr. Jealous noted that there is a young man that grew up with that he considers his brother that happens is a transgender man. Also noting his difficulty with having to keep who he really is private in various settings and how that should not be the case. It always interests me when someone brings up a reference point of someone that is close to then to make their point of empathy. His statement reminded me of that made by some whites accused of racist attitudes who state “my best friend is black”. While that may be the case it does not cushion you from racist or in this case unequal judgment. My question to Mr. Jealous would be this “How do you explain with conviction and clarity to your “brother” that you can’t advocate for his equality at this time for it is just not politically expedient? Are my rights so much less important than those of my brothers and sisters who are in heterosexual unions?