As a Black activist who also happens to be a lesbian, my fight has been resolute not to mainstream homosexuality as some critics wrongly and slanderously maintain, but to promote respect for and tolerance toward those with diverse sexual preferences. 

Look around you.  There’s no place that we go where we don’t see lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people and this is especially true within the African American community.  For many of us, we don’t even need to look outside our families to see this because most of us have gay relatives. 

The recent decision by the state of New Jersey to direct their Legislature to adopt legislation making gay marriage legal was that state’s recognition that lesbian and gay couples are deserving of the same rights as heterosexual couples.  And why shouldn’t they be? Gay couples pay taxes too.

Many gays have been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights, racial justice and against homophobia. We recognize that discrimination is discrimination no matter whether it’s based on race or sexual preference. That makes it a just and valid civil rights issue and fight.

It’s crucial to remember that whether one likes another’s “lifestyle” that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the same rights that you have.  As a lesbian, I may not like your lifestyle, but that doesn’t give me the right to deny you of anything? 

While I will admit that the face of the gay rights movement is largely one of privilege, meaning white, there are many Black same-gender loving people like myself who want to see that gays are given full equality under the law, and not just simply tolerated.

What you do in your bedroom is of no concern to me, and that’s the attitude that more Blacks need to take.  That’s a crucial message that many Blacks still haven’t gotten or accepted.

Black pastors that use gays as scapegoats and as an easy way to raise more money in the collection plate really need to stop.  Because you and I both know that if gays got up and walked out of the church, there’d be no deacons, music, ushers, and in some cases, no pastor.

Blacks that want to act like they are holier than thou and go around quoting certain scriptures to justify their mistreatment of gays need to realize that the same book they are using to do the condoning is the same book that the “massuh” used to condone the mistreatment of his Black slaves.

And for my religious folks, what happened to the idea that God was the ultimate judge of all mankind?  Well, if that’s true, why are so many people trying to do God’s job.  If gays are indeed going to hell, stopping them from getting married isn’t going to “save them” anymore than allowing them to would. 

I’m not going anywhere, and neither are the other millions of Black same-gender loving people.  We are here and we are a part of this community.

Many people, especially the conservative right want to see Blacks divided on this issue.  Blacks do not need a repeat of the 2004 Presidential election where prominent Black pastors used this issue to sway votes to President Bush.

At the end of the day, so what if two people of the same-sex want to get married.  What does that really have to do with you?  Absolutely nothing.  You may not like it just like whites didn’t like the idea of interracial marriages?  It didn’t stop Black people from jumping the broom with them?  And while we’re busy trying to deny gays the right to marry, we’re cleverly distracted from the real issues that affect us all.  Gay or straight, if you’re Black, the war in Iraq, unemployment, affordable housing, health care, a decent living wage, social security reform, and HIV/AIDS are all issues that we need to be focused on going into 2007, while making sure that our newly Democratic led Congress does right by Blacks and other ethnic minorities in this country.