NAACP Leaders Reach Out to Gay Rights Groups

Krissah Thompson, Washington Post, September 23, 2010

Even as the NAACP engages in a tense debate over same-sex marriage, the group’s leaders have begun reaching out more forcefully to gay rights groups.

The outreach has been steered by former chairman Julian Bond and the group’s president, Benjamin Jealous. Both men are supporters of same-sex marriage rights, though the NAACP’s national board has taken no stance on the issue.

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“The NAACP is opposed to discrimination in all its forms,” Jealous said in an e-mail, adding, {snip}

Bond, who spoke at the National March for Equality organized by gay rights groups last fall, has compared the push for same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which he helped lead. {snip}

Other members of the NAACP, which has long had strong ties to the African American religious community, have resisted supporting same-sex marriage and, more broadly, gay rights. The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr., national NAACP board member and state president for Iowa and Nebraska, has been a critic of same-sex marriage. He has called on Iowa lawmakers to begin the process of amending the Constitution to restrict marriage to between a man and a woman.

As a whole, African Americans are much more likely to think that homosexuality is morally wrong (64 percent) than are whites (48 percent) or Hispanics (43 percent), according to a 2009 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In Washington, black pastors helped lead a push against a same-sex-marriage bill that nevertheless became law.

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