The NAACP’s Lame Boat Metaphor to Rationalize Not Taking a Stand on Gay Marriage

AP NAACP Convention

“We’re engaged in fighting a whole range of issues of urgent relevance to the gay community and people of color in our country, including school bullying, hate crimes and employment discrimination. But we’re a barge, not a speedboat. We’re not going to repeat the mistakes of so many other institutions that have literally torn themselves apart over this divisive issue.” That’s NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous on why his organization won’t take an official position on same-sex marriage (which we’ve blasted the NAACP for).

Which is like saying gay activists should not have supported black civil rights in the 1950s and 60s (which, frankly, they did). It also ignores some inconvenient facts, like: There are gay people in the black community, just like there are people of color in the gay community. And the NAACP’s unwillingness to be firm on marriage equality is a slap in their faces. Yes, the NAACP has been on ally to gays in the past; it supports hate crimes legislation and against laws banning same-sex marriage. But the org’s unwillingness to support what boils down to a civil rights issue is unnerving.

MORE: Why is same-sex marriage “such a divisive issue in the black community”? Answers Jealous: “If gay rights groups want to change the opinion polls in the black community, they have to invest in it. It’s a long-term conversation. The battle to oppose Prop 8 could have been much better run. They came to the black community late, with the expectation that they were going to get certain results.”

Is it wrong to think that Jealous also bears some responsibility in changing the minds of the black community? Especially when it comes to civil rights?