Ex-Marine Marquell Smith, who fought to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in the military, has launched a Political Action Committee to try to build support for gay marriage within the African-American community in Chicago.
After being kicked out of the military for being gay, he chose to fight the separation, then cut his political teeth in the anti-DADT movement.
The formation of the PAC comes after a long time on the ground for Smith, who spent time talking to local committees before realizing that the dearth of people of color fighting for the issue was hurting it.
“I was getting a feeling that there weren’t a lot of people standing up who looked like me,” Smith said. “The whole idea behind this is to get citizens to really stand up and get people of color to get behind [same-sex] marriage.”
The Inclusive Community Project Political Action Committee seeks to raise funds to lobby representatives through in-person meetings, phone banking, and protests when needed. Citing the polls that show that African-Americans are 60% in favor of gay marriage, Smith is heading into black neighborhoods to gather support, countering the anti-gay marriage forces that generally target that community.
“My goal is to get into the community. My goal is to go out and find those 60 percent of African Americans [and urge them] to go to their lawmakers,” Smith said. “I believe that when you harness the power of the people, you can accomplish so much.”