When traveling around the country speaking to same gender loving (SGL) and LGBT communities of African decent about our issues and strategies, I often remind myself that I am preaching to the choir. I mean, these people get it. Right? Well, in light of the recent support for President Bush from prominent Black ministers, maybe it’s time we learn a new song because I think we need to do better.
The Black SGL/LGBT community historically tends to be motivated by the same issues that galvanize and motivate the larger Black voting electorate. Marriage equality does not seem to rank at the top of our list of issues when we have so much to deal with in our daily lives. At the end of the day, we are more concerned with issues around HIV/AIDS, healthcare, employment, social security, education and terrorism than gay marriage. Okay, I can understand that. However, I think we need to learn to sing a new song to our families and friends before we find ourselves with President Bush in the White House for another four years.
The GOP has done an excellent job of communicating to the Black community that Bush is opposed to gay marriage. However, it’s important to note that Senator Kerry, while he opposed the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, does not support gay marriage either and I don’t think that message has made it to the greater Black community. Once again, we as members of the SGL/LGBT community need to really rethink our strategy and message around this marriage issue.
It’s of the utmost importance that we start telling everyone we know, from the pulpit to the kitchen table that President Bush is using the gay marriage issue as a distraction to divide the Black vote. And while in my mind, Senator Kerry’s position on gay marriage is neither commendable nor acceptable, if we’re going to win this election, the issue of marriage equality does not need to be the single issue we allow the Black community to focus on. We need to drive home to our straight parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends that if you were voting for President Bush because of where he stands on gay marriage, you may want to recant that vote and give it to Senator Kerry who will devote attention and resources to the larger issues that affect Blacks. Strategically, I think it’s the best move we can make with the time we have left.
I am reminded of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and the many Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who marched and participated in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s when there were very few voices for their own causes willing to stand up. They had to put aside gay rights issues for the cause of the greater movement, the Black Rights Movement.
Using gospel recording artist Donnie McClurkin front stage during the GOP’s convention was a very strategic move designed to play on the emotions of our loved ones who are torn between their love of God, His "interpreted" word and their love of you. I am not asking the Black SGL/LGBT community to abandon the marriage issue because it’s a right that we deserve. I am just asking that we step back to re-examine our strategy and position for the upcoming election. The white gay community cannot effectively communicate to the Black community on gay issues, that’s a responsibility that belongs to us as Black SGL/LGBT persons.
For the sake of winning the election we need to discuss what’s most important to the overall Black agenda with our families, education, HIV/AIDS, affirmative action, employment, healthcare, social security and terrorism, not gay marriage.
The Black vote is very powerful and will guarantee the presidency to whoever can get the majority of it. It is our responsibility as Black gays to make sure that the issue of gay marriage is not used to divide the Black vote by any means necessary. I know it’s a new song to learn in a short amount of time but I have a feeling the choir is up to it. After November 2 when Kerry is in office, we can go back to singing our old song of marriage equality. Until then, let’s ensure Senator Kerry gets into office and President Bush is thrown out. In the end, we stand a better chance of achieving marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples with Kerry in office.