‘Gay rights are civil rights’ says NAACP leader

By |2008-02-21T09:00:00-05:00February 21st, 2008|News|

DETROIT – Julian Bond, the national chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wowed a packed ballroom at the Detroit Renaissance Center Thursday night. Bond spoke to over 1,500 lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender activists from around the country and the world, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference.
“I want to talk about civil rights. I believe gay rights are civil rights,” Bond told the gathering. “That is why when I am asked are gay rights civil rights, I always say of course they are.”
“Am I to tell the gays and lesbians who stood with us in our struggle, ‘Thanks for risking life and limb,’ but now they are excluded because of a condition of birth?” he said. “That I can now turn my back on them and deny them the rights they helped me win? Not a chance.”
Bond, who worked with the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and also helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the crowd about growing up the grandson of a slave, and about watching the the civil rights movement unfold.
“Those were the days when men and women of all colors worked together for civil rights for all people,” Bond said. “Those were the days when the president picked the Supreme Court, and not the other way. Those were the days when the media really was fair and balanced and not just stenographers for the rich and powerful.”
Bond talked at length about the battles which led to the watershed of the African American civil rights struggle, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
“Thus it has just been a little over 40 years that all blacks have exercised all the rights of citizenship,” he said. “Only 40 years since the protections of laws and the Constitution were extended to all. But now some are saying this is enough. The whole country seems proud that a candidate is campaigning in cities that 40 years ago he could not have stayed in a hotel there.”
Bond also took note of the changes that came with the Supreme Court ruling in 1967 in a case called Loving vs. Virginia. That ruling struck down laws preventing people of different races from marrying. He noted that many who supported those laws argued the mixing of races was forbidden by God.
“Does that sound familiar to anyone?” he asked “Then as now, those opposed to gay marriage invoke God’s plan. Well, God seems to have made room for interracial marriage, and he or SHE will likely make room for same sex marriage.”
Calling those who often oppose gay marriage on the basis of Biblical literalism “cafeteria Christians,” he launched into a lengthy series of questions about how he should handle various Biblical passages which prohibit working on the sabbath, having contact with women who are menstruating, and other cleanliness codes found in Leviticus.
“Then there is the black church that has much to answer for,” he said. “For refusing to take a proactive stance against HIV/AIDS. Nowhere in the battle against gay marriage, are the fields tended more so than the pews of the conservative black churches.”
And Bond did not spare the Bush administration in his speech either.
“President Bush said he wanted to be a uniter,” Bond observed. “It took him seven years, but boy did he succeed,” inferring the uniting of the country against the Bush presidency.
Bond also took a hit at the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in place since 1993 in the U.S. military. Under the policy, LBGT military members are not allowed to reveal their sexual orientation, nor are officials allowed to ask.
“Rampant homophobia is not just wrong, it is dangerous to our national security,” he said. “More than 300 language experts have been fired under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… including 50 Arabic speakers.”
“What happened in 2006 was not an election, but an intervention,” he said of the 2006 midterm elections which resulted in Democratic control of the Congress.

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