Shame On CNN For Inviting Roland Martin Onto A Panel About The Gay-Rights Movement

CNN hosted an on-air panel yesterday looking at the gay-rights movement and the fight for same-sex marriage. We started getting a headache the minute we heard the question put to gay African-American commentator LZ Granderson by CNN anchor Carol Costello: “Are gay rights the same as civil rights?”

Oh Carol. Carol, Carol, Carol.

There’s no such thing as gay rights. There’s nothing we gays get to do that everyone else on the planet doesn’t get to do, too. There are just rights—and gay people want ’em.

Granderson gave an acceptable response: “Absolutely,” he says above. “I think people get confused—I don’t think that it’s equal to the civil-rights movement. I think they’re different movements… This notion of ‘what is civil rights’ is not just in the U.S.A.. and it’s not just tied to the [African-American] civil-rights movement.”

Then our good buddy Roland Martin—the guy CNN suspended for tweeting that guys who were excited about David Beckham’s underwear ad should have the shit smacked out of them—weighed in. At first Martin actually clarified the dialogue: “The question is wrong—It’s not a question, ‘Is gay rights civil rights.’ Is the gay-rights movement the same as the black civil-rights movement?” he said. “That is the distinction.”

Yes, that’s likely what Costello was trying to get at—but that’s a ridiculous question, too. Because what it’s really asking is “Who’s had it worse”?

And that is a question with no answer.

roland martin 2That didn’t stop Martin from answering—he explained that white gay men enjoyed greater rights in the pre-civil-rights South than blacks.  “We had African-Americans in Jim Crow who couldn’t vote, who couldn’t stay in hotels,” he opines.

We’re not really sure what to say about that, except that a gay man caught having sex would have been jailed or lynched, regardless of his race.

Yes, gay men were not systematically enslaved for centuries, and some could pass for heterosexual. But black children were not rejected, abused or even murdered by their own parents because of their race.

But, hey, no—we’re not gonna play that foolish game.

At least Roland conceded that,  “A women’s movement, a disabilities movement, a gay movement, a black movement—those are different movements, but the umbrella actually comes under civil rights.”

But why was he there to begin with? At the time of his twitter controversy, in February 2012, GLAAD stated the comments “weren’t an accident — they are a part of a larger pattern for Martin.”

It’s true: He has defended Tracy Morgan’s “stab my gay son” joke, stood up for Miss California Carrie Prejean’s attack against marriage equality, and praised reparative therapy—which his wife practices.

And yet, there he was, weighing in on our rights.

Gee, CNN, was  Allen West busy?

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  • Kieran

    “Are gay rights the same as civil rights?” The ignorance and stupidity we have to deal with is astounding.

  • Caleb in SC

    They are absolutely NOT the same. No African American has ever had to out himself to his parents for being black.

  • QJ201

    Sociologist Erving Goffman’s book on stigma (published before the Civil Rights Act of 1964) makes the distinction between “visible” (e.g., race) and “invisible” minorities (e.g, sexual orientation, religion)…and that both suffer damage to self image as they negotiate society’s prejudice.

  • Scribe38

    @Caleb in SC: It has never been the social norm to buy and sell gay men and women. The U.S. has never allowed groups of men to hang gay men for looking at a white woman. To your point though, as a black teen I would have been protected by my parents from any racist teacher, or harassement at school, but I had no one to turn to for being gay. I can butch up and pretend not to be gay, but I cannot pretend that I am not black. Both groups have had plenty of bad things done to them and should not be doing the I have it worst thing. All minorities should be working together for full rights for everyone.

  • Cam

    It is an idiotic question because….

    What if they are different? Does that mean that one group doesn’t deserve rights because the movement isn’t EXACTLY the same?

    The Native American situation in the U.S. was different than African Americans but nobody said that either group didn’t deserve rights because their situation happened to be different than another group.

    Some of these talking heads are beyond stupid, they need to stop just reading whatever is handed to them and actually think something through.

  • BJ McFrisky

    CNN is the new MSNBC (or at least trying to be).
    Enough said.

  • jwrappaport

    @Cam: Exactly. What Roland wants is a pissing contest of suffering. Apparently what CNN wants is to race bait the schmucks they call pundits. What a farce of a network.

  • JessicaNaomi

    Actually gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were enslaved. The idea that only white people were LGBT is racist and heterosupremacist.

    Ever since some gay bashing Levite wrote that a man who lies with a man as with a woman should be stoned to death the human rights of gay men were denied, and that started 3000 years ago so to say that gay men have not suffered enough for equality is about as heterosupremacist as anyone can get especially a brainwashed descendant of enslaved Africans. Then about 2000 years ago Constantine wrote that gay men and lesbians are worthy of death (Romans 1:27 – btw there was no Saul aka Paul that was Constantine completing his First Solution to the Jewish problem)

    Before, during and after Africans were enslaved by racists, LGBT people have been arrested, denied marriage rights, denied the right to work, to housing, to health, to a fear-free education.

    Included in that LGBT population were African-Americans. We are not ALL White

    GLAAD needs to add Roland Martin to the Commentator Accountability Project and tell CNN to stop inciting violence against LGBT people worldwide.

  • CM79

    No, it’s not the same at all. And the “similarities” are fleeting and shallow. When you’re black, there is no closet to hide it. Period. And don’t give me that nonsense about ‘passing,’ because only a very, very, very small number of black folks (who were usually bi or multi-racial) were fare enough to pull that off. No one knows someone is gay unless they tell them, or do something outwardly that implies/confirms it. That alone nullifies the whole question.

  • Kieran

    Caleb is absolutely right. While it is true that gays were not enslaved enmass 150 years ago, blacks and other minorities atleast have others like them around to support them and counsel them in dealing with discrimination. But kids who are born gay usually had nobody around that they could turn to for support. That’s a big and an important difference.

  • hephaestion

    I get the feeling that many young people are unaware that many gay men were killed for being gay. I recall growing up in a small Southern town where the sole known gay man was mysteriously killed and the whole town was silent about it. His killer was never found and I doubt that police ever tried to find the murderer. Back them the whole world thought that if a gay man was killed, it was his fault and good riddance. Blacks have suffered this same treatment in America. But I think few today realize just how dangerous it used to be to be gay, even if you were super-discreet.

  • ncman

    @CM79: You say:

    “No, it’s not the same at all. And the “similarities” are fleeting and shallow. When you’re black, there is no closet to hide in”….. So what?

    I get the feeling that many people believe that the term “civil rights” only applies to “black rights” or “racial rights”. The 1950s and 1960s movement was not “THE” civil rights movement. It was “A” civil rights movement. The term civil rights is a generic term. Civil rights = HUMAN RIGHTS and every human is entitled to them.

    The woman’s movement was a civil rights movement. Rights for the disabled are civil rights. And, equal rights for the LGBT community ARE CIVIL RIGHTS.

  • Daniel-Reader

    LGBT people have never held the majority of seats in a government that denied black people their human rights. Sadly the reverse is not true, as evidenced by the state of human rights in Africa and the Caribbean (i.e. black majority governements violating LGBT human rights). So no, the two movements aren’t the same.

  • Shadeaux

    @ncman: You would think that would be the case since that is the only movement that “many people” are comparing it to. This article was poorly written. This statement : “Yes, gay men were not systematically enslaved for centuries, and some could pass for heterosexual. But black children were not rejected, abused or even murdered by their own parents because of their race,” implies every other race was rejected, etc because of their race EXCEPT blacks. I don’t think any other race was rejected, abused or even murdered by their parents because of their “race” alone, but ALL races have experienced it because of their sexuality.

    The confusion comes when one section’s rights are compared to another’s, yet excludes other sections. Women own their right, the disabled own their rights, elderly own their rights etc. I do agree with you that they’re all HUMAN rights, but they are identified by sex, capabilities, age, race, or whatever. Collectively they’re human rights, but when you single one section out to compare it with a present fight, especially with a group of people who still feel “we” have a long way to go, it does seem like black rights are being minimized. Prime example of that minimization is this article; ” Yes, gay men were not systematically enslaved for centuries, and some could pass for heterosexual…” For us BLACK PEOPLE… THAT’S A BIG ASS THING! LOL. *Just a black person’s perspective. Not trying to start a racial war. Sorry if I offended anyone.*

  • Bee Gaga

    @Caleb in SC: And? No gay person was ever enslaved for no other reason aside from the color of their skin! We can all make one-sided disadvantages sweetheart

  • Bee Gaga

    Considering they were essentially trying to compare gay rights to black rights it is totally believable and acceptable that they had Roland Martin a non-gay black man on the panel to give that persepctive whether we liked it or not

  • Caleb in SC

    @Bee Gaga: So, Pumpkin, you are endorsing his past homophobic remarks?

  • Dez

    To the woman who commented at the end of the clip- the government IS involved in marriage! Gay marriage doesn’t change that! It’s a legal, civil matter- the CHURCH doesn’t have to have ANYTHING to do with marriage! Separation of church and state! What is so hard about this concept?! It’s what America is about! Straight people don’t get married just to have a cutesy little church ceremony and that’s all! They give their lives to one another as far as insurance and property etc. and get benefits etc. Two people- gay or straight- who WANT to spend their life together and give their lives to each other like that SHOULD have the right to do so! Regardless of if it’s a woman or man! If that’s not a human right or a civil right or whatever, then what the hell is?!


    @QJ201: Thanks for the book recomendation. I’m always amazed when pre-civil rights acts material mentions sexual orientation.

  • LadyL

    This debate saddens and frustrates me. I am black AND queer, and it’s offensive and bewildering to me that some individuals insist on reducing the historical suffering and disenfranchisment of different groups of people to some kind of grotesque competition, a zero-sum game. As some commenters here have pointed out, this perversely misses the point that the struggle for gay rights IS about black people since black people are also LGBT people.
    Change can be so incremental it can be hard to perceive it, but I think attitudes are changing and that many blacks, encouraged by President Obama’s support of LGBT rights and marriage equality, are reconsidering their cultural and/or religious prejudices and standing up for their queer siblings, children and parents. In a way, it’s because this is happening that we’re seeing pushback from blacks like Martin who feel threatened. Black people once took comfort in an expectation of racial conformity, the notion that we all lived the same lives and believed the same things. That was never really true and now that conversation is out in the open.
    So I feel compelled to say that this argument represents a painful period of reflection for many black Americans for whom Ultimate Victimhood has been a key part of their self-identity. Do we really want to wear that badge? Sadly, for some of us, the answer is yes because it’s all we know. For some of us, instead of solidarity we feel resentment that this other group that has been every bit as disrespected, misunderstood and maligned as Us is daring to compare Their struggle to Ours. (No wonder Bayard Rustin isn’t discussed during Black History Month–he represents a VERY inconvenient truth.)

  • Rockery


    You say 150 years ago as if that was so long ago, think about how long a person lives and that is not that long ago and if you think that the trauma and after effects are gone when its only a few generations then you are sadly mistaken. Not all black children have a place to go or someone to turn to either.


    You said “LGBT people have never held the majority of seats in a government that denied black people their human rights. Sadly the reverse is not true, as evidenced by the state of human rights in Africa and the Caribbean (i.e. black majority governements violating LGBT human rights).”

    That is a stupid statement, that has nothing to do with race, there are plenty of places ie: Russia and Middle Eastern places that do the same thing it transcends race. Also, we can never quantify the number of gay government officials, since people can conceal their sexual orientation (ie: Aaron Shock, Larry Craig) so back to the drawing board.


    It is always a good read with these race posts, everyone always speaks of gays and black people as separate entities as if there are no black gays. People don’t seem to see the problem with that. I remember the original Roland post and his comment had to be interpreted to be homophobic and people jumped on it. Around that same time queerty did a story on a white hockey player who actually used the term “f*ggot” and the comments were much more gentle some ignoring the comment altogether saying he was “hot”, there is a race issue within the gay community ITSELF

  • Samuel

    It is a very complex questions. Are we comparing apples and oranges or are we comparing apples and vegetables. The question constantly thrown around is are black and gays rights the same, often through the phrase, “are gay rights civil rights”

    There are parallels between gay rights and the human rights that black people fought for also called civil rights, ie the right to marry racially (slaves could not marry)and then interacially(during the 60s, post Jim-Crow, to be free from discrimination, harrastment etc); Gay people are asking for similar rights, the right to marry and be free from discrimination and harrassment.

    In my opinion, even though the two have remarkable similarity they are not the same. Also, as a gay man I don’t believe in so called gay marraige simply because I think it is a hetrosexual instituation to begin with. Adding the word gay to it wouldnt change this fact. Most gay men I know don’t want to be Mother Theresa and raise kids. almost all just want freedom from hetrosexual oppression, the ability to be themselves and have social sanction of their relationships through civil unions.

  • Daniel-Reader

    Rockery: Deal with it. You are the idiot. You are just angry that it is true.

  • Charli Girl

    @Scribe38: Run tell that to Mathew Shepards Moma!

  • jar

    The victim Olympics is so unseemly. In trying to climb to the top of the oppression heap, one often loses sight of the fact that both the black civil rights movement and the gay rights movement (as well as all human rights battles) strove and continue to strive for an equitable society. And, has been pointed out above, these groups are not mutually exclusive. Why is it so difficult for some to acknowledge the differences in the experience of oppression, while recognizing the similarities as well? It confounds me. Yes, skin color cannot be hidden, whereas sexual orientation may be (I would argue these are not absolutes). So, a black person does not have the ability to hide in the greater society. But the ability to readily identify those in the same group and to develop communities and support systems is enhanced by ready identification. Gay and lesbian people, being more isolated from their brothers and sisters historically did not have the same kinds of support and social networks on a broad basis. Neither experience of oppression is, in my eyes, easier per se. Both groups faced challenges in moving through the larger society and each developed means of coping based upon the resources available to them. However, both groups seek the ability to live freely and openly without having to combat oppressive prejudice. It is in this respect that all battles for justice are joined. It is far better for all of us if we recognize our common battle for equity and stop spewing bile at each other.

    As a side note, if one is wedded to the notion that his/her movement is better than others, I think it would be helpful to ask yourself what it is you seek to gain from that belief system. I would argue that it is a resistance to acknowledging what you actually have and what you do with that.

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