Thought of the Day: Mary Frances Berry

“There is no need to analogize the battle for the rights of gay and lesbian people to the struggle of African Americans to overcome slavery, Jim Crow and continued discrimination. But as Coretta Scott King said to me as she tried to imagine what position the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would take on “don’t ask, don’t tell”: “What’s the yardstick by which we should decide that gay rights are less important than other human rights we care about?”

The Commission on Civil Rights has been crippled since the Reagan years by the appointments of commissioners who see themselves as agents of the presidential administration rather than as independent watchdogs. The creation of a new, independent human and civil rights commission could help us determine our next steps in the pursuit of freedom and justice in our society. A number of explosive issues like immigration reform await such a commission, but recommendations for resolving the controversies over the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people should be its first order of business.” — Mary Frances Berry, former chairwoman of the Commission on Civil Rights calling on Barack Obama to “abolish the now moribund Commission on Civil Rights and replace it with a new commission that would address the rights of many groups, including gays.”