As we near another historical election, marriage equality is on the ballot again. A vote FOR Question 6 will protect the rights of LGBT couples to marry in the state of Maryland. Since the bill was announced earlier this year when Governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill, supporters have been steadfast on the trail for equality with polls showing a majority support the initiative.
Many opponents have organized meetings and attempted to drive a false narrative that black churches and the black populace is against marriage equality. While there are antagonists, there is no monolithic viewpoint that the black church or populace is against marriage equality. In a recent study done by the The Opportunity Agenda, Public Opinion and Discourse on the Intersection of LGBT Issues and Race, it has become evident that there is support in the media that shows support by black voters. Specifically, the problem lies when the media highlights the “Black Church.” Many religious institutions and public figures, as put forth in GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project, are indeed against marriage equality. While their advertising and gatherings are hurtful and damaging to progress, it is not unique to black churches.
Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP, Chair Emeritus Julian Bond of the NAACP, Rev. Delman Coates of Ennon Baptist Chruch, The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Rev. Candy Holmes of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, Academy Award-winning actress, Mo’nique, Kerry Washington, Jay-Z, political activists, celebrities, politicans and many, many other prominent black figures have voiced their support for marriage equality. Last week, The NAACP’s hotline for Maryland voters was launched to ensure that voters are getting accurate information about Question 6.
Earlier this month, Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church gathered at the National Press Club to continue voicing support for marriage equality. Rev. Al Sharpton also attended, noting that this goes beyond a “theological debate.” The Rev. Amos C. Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, continues the discussion noting that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have agreed with Sharpton and supporters of marriage equality. Amos continued, “Every person in this nation deserves respect and dignity and every person should have equal protection under the law.”
Noted filmmaker Yoruba Richen wrote a piece for The New York Times about the intersection of race, religion and marriage equality. Yoruba discusses how she was originally moved to produce her work in 2008 as a response to the “Black Church” and “Black Vote” being put into question after same-sex marriages were denied. Through this discourse and media storm, she began filming The New Black.
The film also prominently showcases NBJC and its Executive Director, Sharon Lettman-Hicks who partnered with the film in 2010 and have been working together since, saying:
“NBJC hasn’t stopped there. The NBJC team will be volunteering on the ground in Prince George’s County on Election Day encouraging registered voters to make their way to the polls, and more importantly, make an informed decision that will protect and benefit Black families. A vote for Question 6 is a vote for equality and fairness. A vote for Question 6 is a vote to strengthen Black families.”
The The New Black, will definitely provide some new insight to this issue and GLAAD hopes to continue its work with organizations such as NoWedge 2012, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent and NBJC to highlight that faith and LGBT equality are not mutually exclusive identities, especially when it comes to black churches. Click here to see a trailer for the film, here.
See you at the ballot box tomorrow!