Will Martin Luther King Inspire President Obama to “Evolve” on LGBT Rights?
1 year ago
Vice-president Biden & LGBT activists put pressure on the POTUS
Days ago, civil rights legend Julian Bond was honored at an all-star gala featuring tributes from Dave Matthews, Wanda Sykes, Stephen Colbert and others. In addition to celebrating Bond’s contributions to the fight for racial equality, the evening also served as a fundraiser for a professorship to be endowed in his honor at the University of Virginia.
The endowment will ensure that courses on the history of the civil rights movement will continue to be taught long after Bond’s retirement, an increasingly urgent concern since studies show an alarming number of young people are blissfully unaware of the movement and its leaders. But the evening served another purpose. Bond was celebrated for being a trailblazer for his leadership on the issue of LGBT rights.
A number of high profile contributors for the evening, among them news anchor Anderson Cooper, and openly gay (and hysterical) comedian Kate Clinton specifically cited Bond’s courage on the issue LGBT rights—long before it was fashionable—as being a cornerstone of his legacy. Yet while Bond may have been one of the first civil rights leaders to come out publicly in favor of LGBT rights, he is certainly not the only one.
Congressman John Lewis and Coretta Scott King are among the luminaries to voice their support for equality for LGBT Americans. Before her death King was unwavering on the issue saying, "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union," she said. "A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages." (Click here to read my interviews with various civil rights leaders on LGBT rights.)
[Also Read: Should Obama Break His Silence On Gay Rights?]
Her embrace of LGBT rights put her at odds with members of her own family. Among them her niece Alveda King, a vocal anti-gay activist and daughter Rev. Bernice King, who canceled a scheduled interview with me regarding the new biography of her mother just minutes before when informed I would be asking about LGBT rights. The reason I was particularly interested in asking King about the topic is because her recent public comments seem to indicate that she is “evolving” on the issue. Sound familiar?
Vice-president Joe Biden sent the media world into a tizzy when he announced his own “evolution” on gay marriage saying on “Meet the Press” that “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”
Shortly thereafter the same criticism that has haunted the Obama administration since before he took the oath of office began from the LGBT community: “What’s taking the president so long to “evolve’?” And yet it needs to be said (by someone since it seems that absolutely no leader in the LGBT community is willing to say it): this president has done more for gays and lesbians than any other.