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The NAACP's gay-marriage endorsement: Is black homophobia overstated?
The powerful civil rights organization's Ben Jealous joins other influential black voices — including President Obama and Jay-Z — and strongly backs gay rights
NAACP CEO Ben Jealous during an annual convention last year: "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law," Jealous said in a weekend statement.
NAACP CEO Ben Jealous during an annual convention last year: "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law," Jealous said in a weekend statement.
REUTERS/Fred Prouser
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he NAACP, one of the nation's most influential African-American advocacy groups, endorsed gay marriage on Saturday, with NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous calling it a civil right. Several other black luminaries, including rapper Jay-Z, have also expressed their support in the two weeks since President Obama said he has come to believe that same-sex marriage should be legal. Many pundits worried that black voters would abandon Obama over that stance, thanks to the conventional wisdom that African-Americans, especially strongly religious ones, oppose legalizing gay marriage. But polls show no notable backlash. Is it time to bury the notion that blacks are more resistant to gay rights than the rest of the country?

Don't believe the hype on black homophobia: Gay marriage foes exaggerated black opposition to suggest that "Obama's own people are against him," says Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction. The NAACP has debunked that "racist spin," and shows that African-American rejection of gay marriage has been "overhyped." Some blacks oppose it, as do some whites, but thanks to the president's bold stand, more blacks and whites alike are evolving, and joining Obama "on the right side of history."
"NAACP supports same-sex marriage, but what about blacks generally?"

Black opposition is strong, but it's weakening: Undeniably, "opposition to gay marriage continues to run deep among African Americans," says the Rev. Dennis Wiley at The Washington Post. But it's getting weaker all the time — 63 percent opposed it in 2008, and only 49 percent do now. Black or white, all Americans are products of a culture "saturated with anti-gay rhetoric, bigotry, and discrimination;" clearly, we all need "time and space to evolve" and disentangle ourselves "from the hatred and intolerance that have been instilled within us."
"Same-sex marriage support shows diversity in African-American religious community"

But the NAACP's stance is about the election, not gay rights: The NAACP's sudden interest in gay marriage is nothing but "damage control," says Paul Mirengoff at Power Line. After all, the refusal of states to recognize same-sex unions is "no more or less a violation of civil rights than it was a month ago." So what explains the NAACP's new outspokenness? The group is merely jumping on the bandwagon to provide cover for Obama, and make sure that his evolution won't cost him "the full, enthusiastic support of black voters" he needs to win in November.
"NAACP offers Obama political cover on gay marriage"

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