On Saturday the Board of Directors of the NAACP, the nation's oldest, largest, and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization, passed a historic resolution in support of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The NAACP said the resolution represents a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law. Bravo!
The NAACP's resolution is a tremendous statement of support from one of our country's most important voices on civil rights issues. It came on the heels of President Obama's own landmark interview with ABC News in which he discussed his evolution in thinking on the issue of marriage for same-sex couples -- a process that is not unfamiliar to many Americans -- and how he came to a place of support. The exciting developments of this past weekend speak to the incredible symbolic power of President Obama's endorsement.
The NAACP's freedom-to-marry resolution also signals the ultimate failure of an ugly and divisive strategy from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM). It was recently revealed in internal strategy memos from NOM that the organization hoped to pit racial and ethnic minorities against the LGBT community as a way to defeat and roll back gay-rights advances, specifically marriage for same-sex couples. The memos included the following: "The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies."
Saturday's vote by the Board of Directors of the NAACP provides a critical, hopefully decisive, blow to the thinking at the core of NOM's strategy of "divide and conquer." Underpinning this strategy is a really poisonous assumption that the LGBT community is separate and apart and in one corner, while racial and ethnic minorities are in another. Of course, we know this is not the case. America is much more diverse and connected across ethnic, racial, and sexual orientation lines than organizations like NOM seem to be aware. We don't fit in the neat, segregated corners that their strategies are dependent upon.
Newly released poll numbers and statements of support from prominent African-Americans, ranging from Rev. Al Sharpton and Julian Bond to Jay-Z and Will Smith, spell further doom for the divisive and outdated strategies of pitting minority groups against each other for political gain.
While anti-gay groups like NOM will no doubt continue down the isolated and lonely road of divisive discrimination, the NAACP's historic resolution speaks to a fundamental American principle that can unite those of disparate backgrounds and beliefs: Equal Justice Under Law.
Follow Ian Thompson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iantDC