I felt that it was a good time to pull this out from the old files of stuff I’ve written in the past. This letter was sent to Cityview on May 19, 2004, as reply to their article on the African-American community and their alignment with their churches to protest the gay and lesbian’s pursuit for civil and equal rights.
The main idea of the letter below was to point out that the same-sex rights issue isn’t solely political or religious, but also one of racial, cutlural attitudes and other factors. I have edited this letter to reflect the current times.
As an African-American, it’s not surprising that the majority of the black community is against homosexuality. In fact, it’s not even discussed in public or private. It’s considered as a dirty little secret. The Black church’s opposition to same-sex marriages is comparable to the stance of the “religious right” faction of the Republican Party. To be deemed as the “religious left” of the Democratic Party sounds demeaning, but so is saying that the gays’ and lesbians’ cause for civil rights is not similar to the plight for racial equality by African-Americans in the 1950’s and 60’s.
The Rev. Henry Thomas’ statement “Anything God is against, I’m against,” mirrors the late Rev. Jerry Falwell saying that God is against the Teletubbies because they exhibit gay tendencies on public television.
Here are a few more comparisons: blacks were lynched for fighting for their rights and for being black; gays and lesbians have been beaten and left for dead for fighting for their rights and for being gay. African-Americans were and still subjected to discrimination of all types from housing to jobs; gays and lesbians were and still subjected to discrimination of all types from housing to jobs as well. There has been and will be discrimination of all types towards people of different backgrounds.
The turning point of the fight for racial equality was the lynching of Emmitt Till. The turning point of the fight for gay rights was the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard. Is Emmitt’s death more important than Matthew’s? The answer is simple: no. Murder is murder, and the reason is the same: “you are not welcome among us.”
In general, civil rights are the rights belonging to an individual, particularly the freedoms, privileges, due process, and equal protection guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments. With this in mind, I question the use of the term “civil rights” by the black community. Is it used exclusively by African-Americans and no other minority groups are allowed to use it? Or are these groups be allowed to use the term to pursue their basic civil rights? Civil rights is a general and basic right. No one owns this term to label their plight as more important than any other group.
In Loving v. Virginia (1967), the commonwealth of Virginia deemed interracial marriages as immoral and illegal. Is that analogy any different than what took place in Massachusetts and in Iowa, with respects to same-sex marriages? As a general response to the African-American ministers in Des Moines, this is not an issue of morality.
It’s an issue of civil rights.
To be blunt, it is immoral to treat a human being inhumanly and with prejudice. Everyone is guaranteed their basic civil rights. You can still believe in a higher deity and still attend a house of worship, but please heed this: you do not have to go along with what your church believes in politically and socially. However, as strong as the church is in the Black community and in Democratic circles, it’s common practice not to offer a dissenting opinion, for fear of being ostracized as a sinner or a sell-out.
It’s said that our doors are always open, but we do a shoddy job of showing it.