Is Obama the ‘MLK for the gays’?

As you’ve probably heard, the Justice Department filed another brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act on Thursday, prompting criticism from gay rights advocates who say the Obama administration should allow the law to be struck down instead of defending it. Indeed, less than a month after signing a bill to repeal  “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Obama again finds himself under fire from the LGBT community. With the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday coming Monday, Equality Matters President Richard Socarides drew this analogy in The Huffington Post:

“The repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a breathtaking accomplishment. President Obama will get credit. But from this point forward he has a choice. If he builds on it, he could become the MLK for the gays. But if he continues to allow the Justice Department to file these briefs opposing full equality, he will squander an historic opportunity.”

—  John Wright

Bernice King, the SCLC and homophobia

The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recently made history by becoming the first woman chosen to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was founded by her father.

At first glance, that might sound like a great things for the LGBT community: a Christian organization headed up by a member of the King family. But take a second look and you see it’s not so great at all.

The thing is, Bernice King is one of the very few King family members who is on the record as being anti-gay. Colleagues of MLK Jr. have said that if he were still alive he would be a gay rights proponent, and most of those same colleagues are themselves gay rights supporters. His wife, the late Coretta Scott King, spoke out in favor of gay rights, including same-sex marriage. His daughter Yolanda King was also an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights.

But Bernice King is an evangelical Christian in every sense of the word. In fact, she led an anti-gay-marriage march in December 2004 that culminated at her father’s gravesite. It is a position that, given the apparent widespread support in the African-American community for the anti-gay-marriage Prop 8 in California last November, that many black Americans share.

But not all.

In a column posted today on TheDailyVoice.com, billed as “black America’s daily news source,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson calls on Bernice King to renounce her anti-gay stance, saying that with that 2004 march, “King sullied her father’s name to show her enmity to gay marriage. She also sullied her mother’s too.”

Hutchinson writes: “[Martin Luther] King deeply believed that embodied in the civil rights cause was a person’s right to be whom and what he was. King may have even praised his daughter for having the courage and conviction to march for her beliefs, but that would not have changed his unyielding belief that bigotry is still bigotry, whether it’s racial or sexual preference, and must be uncompromisingly opposed.”

Go read the rest of Mr. Hutchinson’s column. And then take the time to read the comments people have posted about it. It will make you think — and thinking about these issues, and trying to find some kind of understanding and some kind of common ground are the only way that any of us can ever truly win the equal rights battle.

—  admin