Thursday, July 16, 2009

LGBT equality & the hypocrisy of black churches

Congressional Quarterly guest columnist Tracie Powell writes today about the hypocrisy of black churches. She profiles the struggle of Rev. Eric P. Lee, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Lee is under fire from the national SCLC for his opposition to Proposition 8. SCLC, by the way, is the group Martin Luther King Jr. helped found. Powell reports on a conversation she had with Lee.
“Any time you deny one group of people the rights and privileges that other groups enjoy, it is fundamentally and unequivocally a denial of their civil rights. That makes it a justice issue,” Lee said in a telephone interview from California. “Because of black people’s history of being oppressed and discriminated against in this country, and because of our legacy of fighting against those things, we have earned the right to be the moral authority on justice issues. In fact, we are obligated to speak out.”
Lee argues that this is why black churches should support LGBT rights. Powell implies that black churches should do that even if they oppose homosexuality. Actually, her column makes it sound like all black churches "are against homosexuality," which is simply not true.

Powell does a terrific job of reporting the situation, but I do find that I'm uneasy, particularly when I read the end of her column. I find it personally a bit odd that one can argue that being "against homosexuality" is a legitimate position. To me, a lesbian, this feels like arguing that it's legitimate to be "against" a person's blackness.

BUT, I sincerely appreciate the information Powell is reporting and the argument the column makes. As King once said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

None of us -- black, white, straight or LGBT -- can afford to give a pass to injustice. Many thanks to Powell for tackling this tough issue.

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