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  • « Teaching gay to seven year-olds | Main | Thank goodness for Barney! »

    September 28, 2007

    A curious time to rally round the gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Naacp_ad It's wonderful to see the recent voices from the African-American civil rights movement in favor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which adds "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to existing hate crime laws.

    Some of us have been saying for months that a vocal response was needed to counter a campaign by conservative black clergy (and white clergy too) making the spurious claim that the hate crime law would somehow subject preachers to arrest for delivering anti-gay sermons.

    In just the last week, we've seen the NAACP take out a full page ad in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, where Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen has been targeted by influential local black clergy for his hate crime support. (An enlarged copy of the ad, where the text is readable, is available for viewing on the jump from this post.)

    Then Melissa Harris-Lacewell, an influential young African-American professor at Princeton, penned a piece on Huffington Post calling on black Christians to answer the ridiculous claims by conservative black clergy about how the hate crime bill would impinge their religious freedom.

    Just yesterday, legendary African-American Professor Cornel West, also of Princetown, wrote an opinion column for the Boston Globe making the same arguments in even more blunt fashion:

    The truth is that the Matthew Shepard Act protects all First Amendment rights. And, although that is a given, this bill goes out of its way to protect the free speech of ministers. Those pastors who wish to continue condemning and dehumanizing the gay community will be free to do so.

    Well said, though I can't help but notice the curious timing for this groundswell of vocal support for the hate crimes bill. Two factors could explain the trend.

    The more neutral would be that the bill was up for a vote this week in the U.S. Senate. Of course, the prospect that it would come up for a Senate vote has been around since at least July. The other is the decision by the Human Rights Campaign, the bill's strongest backer, to take its own vocal stance last week at the controversial Jena 6 rallies in Washington, D.C., and Jena, La.

    I'd like to believe the timing is because of the Senate vote this week, but I can't help but wonder… What do you think? Was this scratch-your-back politics at work?

    For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/hatecrimes

    (An enlarged version of the NAACP follows in the jump)

    Hcad_3

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    1. Surprise: Some Black People Don't Hate the Gays from The Bilerico Project on Oct 2, 2007 7:52:57 AM

      I am beginning to wonder if Chris Crain, former editor of the Washington Blade, has been spending time discussing Black Americans with Fox Noise commentator Bill O'Reilly over chicken wings at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem. Just as O'Reilly seemed to b... [Read More]

    Comments

    1. adamblast on Sep 28, 2007 3:34:07 PM:

      I figured an unofficial quid-pro-quo was in the works when I first saw those pix of Solmonese at the Jena 6 rally podium.

      Reminds me of his dealings with Hillary. Whatever his faults, he certainly knows how to power-broker.

    1. Andoni on Sep 28, 2007 5:06:07 PM:

      Nobody can do it alone. In politics you need coalitions and that means you support what I need now and I’ll support what you need later.

      On the Immigration Equality Blog, people were questioning why gays should rally around the Jena 6 and the Dream Act when those are not our issues. My answer was they need us and we need them. We as a group are too small to do anything all by ourselves.

      We may have the most righteous arguments in the world, but if we are only 10% of the population we can’t move anything. Few things move in Congress because they are the right thing to do. They move because lots of people are behind the legislation and are vocal and will call and make their voices heard.

      So those are the facts of political life. You become part of a coalition and as long as your coalition partners don’t ask you to do something that is totally out of line or against your basic positions, you do it. Sometimes you hold your nose and do it, especially if you really need the support in an upcoming vote.

      Politics is not pretty; it’s complicated and full of compromised positions. It is very difficult to maintain a pure, totally unadulterated path when trying to pass your legislation. Those are simply the facts of life in Washington.

    1. Sean on Sep 28, 2007 11:15:26 PM:

      Black people are very conservative on social issues. That is solely because of the black churches that preach that stuff. Black gay people won't make any progress if they don't get more ministers on their side.

    1. cmoney on Sep 29, 2007 7:13:50 PM:

      So what's your point? The NAACP had always been supportive of anti-hate crime legislation for all groups of people subject to abuse and discrimination. Coretta Scott King was a strong advocate for gay rights and even had openly gay men as her top assistants. I mean, it seems to me that you resent that a Black organization actually supports your cause. And you wonder why some Blacks consider White gays even more racist that straigh White people.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 30, 2007 5:23:02 PM:

      I think it has more to do with the fact that this is coming from a group who supports and defends black people for criminal behavior from this to dogfighting.

      And is rabidly anti-Republican, viciously brands other BLACK people who don't do its bidding as "house slaves", "Uncle Toms", and "oreos", drove off its last president (who actually knew what he was doing), and is becoming more and more irrelevant even among the minority group it purports to represent.

      In other words, it's just like HRC. No wonder they hooked up.

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