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Blacks and Amendment 2

Imagine a black man standing on a yacht and pulling up the rope ladder after climbing aboard, even though more people are down in the water.

That's the vision I get whenever I hear black people, especially black ministers, promoting Amendment 2, the state's proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage.

I just don't understand how blacks can demand equality while denying it to gays.

Middle- and upper-class blacks always hear a message about how we have a responsibility to reach back to the inner cities and lend a hand even though we've escaped to the suburbs or moved up to a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Shouldn't the same principle apply to gays? Shouldn't we help other folks achieve equality now that we've made strides?

Many misguided blacks argue there is a difference between civil rights and gay rights: "I couldn't choose my skin color, but gays choose their lifestyle."

You could argue it's not a choice for gays, but why does it matter? This is America and what someone chooses to do in their bedroom — either by choice or by genetic decree — is their business.

If people who say they're for less government really mean it, they shouldn't expect our lawmakers to regulate what happens in the privacy of a home. If your church sanctions gay marriages and you disagree, challenge your minister or join another church.

The moral debate, however, shouldn't extend to a government that theoretically represents every citizen.

No group should have a greater sensitivity to this issue than blacks, but on Oct. 19, many black pastors who support Amendment 2 will dedicate sermons to the topic, asking members to vote yes.

Never mind the more pressing issues plaguing their communities: black-on-black crime, teenage pregnancies, absentee fathers, the achievement gap, AIDS, joblessness and health disparities.

Why should those issues take precedence? Because we already have a ban on gay marriage in this state. That's right, Florida already has the Defense of Marriage Act.

However, the Yes2Marriage.org site states the law could easily be overturned, allowing the court to "impose same-sex marriage on the rest of society. This will require schools to begin teaching that homosexual marriages are equal to marriages between a man and a woman. Public schools will be forced to teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife."

Really? Come on, even a repeal of the law — unlikely given the recent conservative state Supreme Court appointments by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — is not going to result in gay marriage becoming part of the school curriculum. That's a shameful leap in logic.

And doesn't that baseless argument sound eerily similar to the declarations about civil rights? You remember: If black kids and white kids start "commingling" in school, it will result in race riots that will tear this nation apart.

The tolerance and understanding yielded by the civil rights movement has made us a better nation. Extend the same degree of tolerance to gays, and again, we will be a better society.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Everyone, especially blacks, should remember those words when contemplating this issue.

That's all I'm saying.

Blacks and Amendment 2 10/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 3:49pm]

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