By Jimmy Moore
March 8, 2004
SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- Many African Americans have become increasingly offended by the comparison made by gay marriage activists to the struggle blacks went through to obtain civil rights in the United States.
Jason West, the young mayor of New Paltz, New York, who continued to perform weddings for homosexual couples over the weekend despite facing 19 criminal counts last week for allowing gays to get married, remarked that the gay marriage movement is simply "the flowering of the largest civil rights movement the country's had in a generation."
He added, "The people who would forbid gays from marrying in this country are those who would have made Rosa Parks sit in the back of the bus."
Similarly, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has allowed nearly 4,000 gay marriages to take place in his city since February 12, used a civil rights comparison as justification for allowing same-sex weddings to take place.
"Rosa Parks didn't wait for the courts to tell her it was all right to ride in the front of the bus," Gavin told Newsweek.
However, many civil rights leaders are not pleased with the comparison.
Rev. Gene Rivers, president of the National Ten-Point Leadership Foundation and a minister in Boston, said gay activists have no right to compare their struggle with what blacks went through in the 1950s and 1960s.
"The gay community is pimping the civil rights movement and the history," Rivers told the Associated Press. "In the view of many, it's racist at worst, cynical at best."
Bishop Andrew Merritt, head of Straight Gate Ministries in Detroit, joined several other local pastors recently to support traditional marriage and denounce these comparisons to black civil rights.
"We find the gay community's attempt to tie their pursuit of special rights based on their behavior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s abhorrent," Merritt told the AP. "Being black is not a lifestyle choice."
Even Rev. Jesse Jackson, an icon of the civil rights struggle, has stated gay rights cannot be equated with civil rights for blacks.
"The comparison with slavery is a stretch in that some slave masters were gay, in that gays were never called three-fifths human in the Constitution ... and in that they did not require the Voting Rights Act to have the rights to vote," Jackson recently stated in a speech he made in Boston.
Rev. Joseph Lowery, who supports gay rights, said he is disturbed that gay activists try to compare their struggle with what blacks went through.
"Homosexuals as people have never been enslaved because of their sexual orientation," he told the AP.
Star Parker, a conservative black leader in California, said black Americans may be liberal on many social issues, but "not this one," referring to gay marriage.
Rev. Jeffrey Brown, a Massachusetts pastor who has joined with others in the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, said he is joining the effort against gay marriage because "there is something to this that is not right."
While some blacks may not agree with the comparison, the issue is a reminder to many of them of the struggles they went through for rights.
Yet, despite the attempt by gay activists to find empathy for their cause from black Americans, several conservative groups are encouraging black churches to outright deny the erroneous comparison.
"We oppose attempts to equate homosexuality with civil rights or compare it to benign characteristics such as skin color or place of origin," states the Family Research Council on its website.
Matt Daniels, executive director for the Alliance for Marriage, argues "communities of color" strongly support traditional marriage and a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Interestingly, black Americans, who have traditionally voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, are torn between supporting Republicans, the party that opposes gay marriage or the Democrats, who are leading the effort to give marriage rights to homosexuals.
As previously reported by Talon News, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that black support for the Democratic Party fell sharply from 74 percent to 63 percent from the 2000 election to the 2002 election.
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