What welcome news; and it clarifies and underscores that the social justice movement will not be divided by NOM, race-baiters, and anti-equality activists that try to conflate church and state and court communities of color in a divide and conquer strategy. At a Miami meeting of civil rights organization’s board of directors, the NAACP voted to support marriage equality. Its statement:

“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed.”

The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years, the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.0

Below is the text of the resolution passed by the NAACP board of directors:

The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, education, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.

Some reactions…

Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

“This is truly a historic moment as the NAACP — the nation’s oldest civil rights organization — takes an official and unequivocal stand for marriage equality. As the country’s oldest national LGBT rights group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force could not be more thrilled.

“We are also not surprised by the leadership exhibited once again by the NAACP. Just a few months ago, NAACP President Ben Jealous stood before 3,000 LGBT rights activists at our Creating Change Conference and spoke powerfully and poignantly about the ties of conscience and courage that bind us. ‘The NAACP and the LGBT movement have fought together for social justice since Bayard Rustin planned the March on Washington in 1963,’ he told the crowd. ‘He was a black gay hero who wrote the textbook on mobilizing the masses for jobs and freedom.’

“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NAACP working together on the many issues that affect all of our lives. Whether it be fair access to education and jobs, an end to voter suppression and racial profiling, the right to love and be who we are free of discrimination — these issues affect all of us, our families and our country. Today the NAACP did what it does so well — inspires and affirms our common humanity.”

GLAAD:

“For more than 103 years, the NAACP has been a leading advocate and a voice for members of marginalized communities. Today’s announcement represents their continued stance against the discrimination that LGBT families face. We applaud President Ben Jealous and the NAACP Board of Directors for their leadership on this issue,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Across races, faith traditions, and political persuasions, a majority of our culture recognizes that denying gay couples the chance at happiness that comes with being married is unfair and un-American.”

The NAACP’s recent statement affirming same-sex couples reflects the latest data polling data that shows a significant increase in support for marriage equality among African Americans.

-This week, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that since President Obama declared his support of marriage equality, “54 percent express a favorable view of his position on the issue,” compared to “just 41 percent of African-Americans supported gay marriage in ABC/Post polls in mid-2011 and early 2012.”

-A Public Policy Polling survey found “a noticeable shift in the attitudes of African Americans in North Carolina toward rights for gay couples in the wake of President Obama’s announcement. -A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released in March 2012 showed support for marriage equality among African Americans at 50 percent.

-A Field Poll of California voters released in February 2012 found that 53 percent of Latino and 50 percent of African-American respondents approved of allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Last week, GLAAD joined “NoWedge 2012: A Memo to Black America,” a movement among Black civil rights and faith leaders in response to anti-LGBT tactics to “drive a wedge between gays and Blacks” as first reported by the Human Rights Campaign. Launching at Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, DC, the Black community and faith leaders issued a national declaration regarding the need for an organized, unified response to combat attempts steered at creating tensions with Black and LGBT communities.

HRC:

“We could not be more pleased with the NAACP’s history-making vote today – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “It’s time the shameful myth that the African-American community is somehow out of lockstep with the rest of the country on marriage equality is retired – once and for all. The facts and clear momentum toward marriage speak for themselves.”

Evan Wolfson, Founder and President, Freedom to Marry:

“The NAACP has long been the nation’s conscience and champion for an America where all share equally in the promise of liberty and justice for all.  Today the NAACP resoundingly affirmed that the freedom to marry is a civil right and family value that belongs to all of us, and that discriminatory barriers to marriage must fall.  The toxic tactics of anti-gay groups like NOM to ‘drive a wedge between blacks and gays’ will be washed away in the wave of righteous affirmation.”

Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s Josh Levin:

We could not be more pleased with the NAACP board decision to support marriage equality. It is yet again reflective of the growing momentum within the African-American community –like all communities – to support stronger families and protect children.
The NAACP- Baltimore Branch has been part of our coalition from the beginning, as has Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, Dr. Julian Bond. Churches and African-American pastors have spoken out in favor of civil marriage. And anecdotally through our field work, President Obama’s historic endorsement of marriage equality is changing people’s minds.

The signs are clear: A majority of all Marylanders – people of all backgrounds – support making families stronger and protecting all children equally under the law.

Family Equality Council:

“The NAACP’s vote today in favor of marriage equality is clearly also a vote in support of our families,”  said Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler. “LGBT couples raising children in our country are more likely to be people of color and today they can take comfort knowing they are part of two strong communities who share a common goal of fairness and freedom for all American families.”

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC):

“As a Life Member of the NAACP, I am happy to see the organization join the President of the United States in ‘evolving’ and follow the powerful example of civil rights icons and Black voices like Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Julian Bond, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and others who have said committed LGBT couples and families deserve the same protections as everyone else,” says Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. “Family is the epicenter of Black life, community and culture. For Black LGBT people, its importance is just as great.”

Studies show that Black lesbian partners parent at almost the same rate as Black heterosexual couples. In comparison to their white counterparts, both Black gay and lesbian couples are more likely to be raising children. Robbed of the 1,138 federal protections and benefits available to married couples, including Social Security survivors benefits, Medicaid spend-down protections, and workers’ compensation, Black same-sex families are disproportionately put in harm’s way. Despite these challenges, Black gay men and lesbians continue to care for children in need of a loving and supportive home. According to the LGBT Families of Color: Facts at a Glance Report,same-sex partners who become foster parents are more likely to be families of color than among heterosexual married couples. Yet 40 states plus the District of Columbia are silent on fostering by LGBT parents, while 2 states restrict it. Same-sex couples also face uncertainty about joint adoption in 28 states and are prohibited entirely in 5 other states.

“Outdated anti-gay laws and mindsets disproportionately undermine Black families,” adds Lettman-Hicks. “When you deny loving and committed same-sex couples equal protection under the law, you’re inflicting an even greater blow on LGBT families of color whose challenges are compounded by both race and orientation.

As a voice of Black leadership, the NAACP can help the country understand that the fight for equality isn’t about ‘Black vs. gay,’ but that there are loving couples and families at the intersection who are a part of the Black/African American narrative.”

Marriage Equality USA’s Executive Director, Brian Silva:

“The NAACP has been a long-time ally in the fight for marriage equality. Today’s vote cements the bond of our common struggle to insure that all Americans are treated equally.  We thank our friends at the NAACP for their action today.”

In their resolution the NAACP Board affirmed, “…the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens.”

The NAACP Board was unequivocal in the announcement released today, with President and CEO Ben Jealous declaring, “Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

”The NAACP has an unbroken history of standing up for civil rights for all Americans, right up through their stand against the discriminatory Amendment 1 in North Carolina, and now today’s historic vote affirming marriage equality for all loving and committed couples,” said Stuart Gaffney, MEUSA Media Director. “Standing together from coast-to-coast with allies such as the NAACP is what is going to make the dream of marriage equality for all loving and committed couples a reality.”

Actress and comedienne Wanda Sykes, who is a lesbian married with kids, commented on the President’s “coming out” on marriage equality and the NAACP’s announcement (via LGBTPOV):