I was so fortunate to be able to personally thank NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous today at Netroots Nation today for his long-time leadership on marriage equality that resulted in the civil rights organization’s recent public statement for marriage equality. Thank you Ben (and the rest of the NAACP board)!
The NAACP’s position clearly blew away the divisive wedge strategy that the National Organization for Marriage has been pimping for some time.
“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.”
NAACP President Ben Jealous, a leader in the campaign to abolish the death penalty will be at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty booth today (Saturday) at #NN12 from 3 to 3:30pm. You can sign the pledge to help end the death penalty as part of NCADP’s “Shouting From The Rooftops!” effort.
I first met Pres. Jealous back in 2009, which in LGBT rights world is eons ago. That year the NAACP rolled out the LGBT Equality Task Force, a partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to help address homophobia in the black community and the socially conservative religious communities. Read this excerpt of a post on PHB about the state of things back in 2009…and how far this organization has come because of persistent, consistent leadership on LGBT rights as a social justice issue in 2012.
I had a chance to sit down for an informal chat with Ben Jealous when I attended the NAACP Leadership 500 Summit. He is sincere in support for LGBT rights and does understand and is frank, as he was at the above event at the community center, in acknowledging the challenges in his constituency.
To be blunt, the bulk of the NAACP’s membership is “well seasoned,” from the same generation that less likely to understand or support LGBT equality in large numbers. Couple that with a membership that is very wedded to organized religion, and you have a ship that will take a long time to steer in the right direction.
That’s why Jealous has deemed the Leadership 500 Summit the place where younger leaders of the NAACP can network, share ideas and resources because the org has a reputation for being out of step and out of touch with this generation’s black middle class. This is a major step in the right direction. I spoke with quite a few young people who are out there in the community having to fight the “old fogey” image of the NAACP, and are LGBT-supportive. These are the people who will be in leadership in the future.
During that conference I decided to become a lifetime member. Why? I found myself, as an out lesbian who discussed LGBT issues on a panel, quite lonely there. That has to stop and visibility has to be upped. I was not disrespected in any way, mind you – I actually had a nice conversations with a number of people who were supportive of points I made on the panel – but there were simply not many openly gay LGBTs there. None approached and self-identified. That needs to change as well to move the culture forward.
It is a sea change that has occurred, and it is incumbent on the LGBT community to give back and join communities of color in the goal of social justice for everyone.