CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

Marriage-Equality Resolution Comes Under Scrutiny At NAACP Convention

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous

As rank-and-file members of the NAACP gather in Houston for the group’s national convention, it’s clear the nation’s oldest black civil-rights group isn’t of one mind about LGBT equality. Since NAACP leadership approved a historic resolution supporting same-sex marriage on May 19, several  chapter heads—as well as national board member Rev. Keith Ratliff—resigned over the issue. Ratliff told the gay community to “stop hijacking the civil-rights movement.”

Sorry ’bout that. Our bad!

Sadly sentiments against the resolution have only become stronger in Houston: “I’ve got gay people in my congregation, but I would not marry them,”  The Reverend James Nash, pastor of St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church, told Reuters. “That’s not the will of God, but who am I to tell them what lifestyle choices they can make?” Yet another man of God, Reverend Elston McCowan of St. Louis, said both his chapter and his congregation had a “mixed reaction” to the resolution.

It’s obvious a lot of the grumbling on the NAACP’s stance is coming from clergymen: the black church’s historical involvement in the civil-rights movement has muddied the waters in what should be a secular issue. No one is telling Reverends Nash, McCowan or Ratliff they have to let a gay couple jump the broom in their chapel. Just like no one is currently forcing them to marry anyone they don’t want to, for whatever reason.

As national board member Anita Russell says, “We’re not asking them to change their beliefs. It’s not a moral or a religious issue.”

Fortunately, the black community and the LGBT community are simpatico on at least one topic: Our complete disgust at Mitt Romney.