03/01/2007 03:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Civil Rights Advocate, No More

People for the American Way has obtained a strategy memo from the Alliance For Marriage (AFM), a rightwing organization intent on cultivating a "fifty state strategy" against marriage equality. AFM says they're fighting an "historic struggle" to beat back the "acceleration" of marriage equality on the state level by promoting "a non-binding Marriage Protection Resolution; a joint resolution passed by state legislatures calling upon the state's congressional delegation and congressional leadership in Washington, to send the federal Marriage Protection Amendment to state legislators for ratification."

In the memo, AFM President Matt Daniels writes, "It is safe to predict that the trend in the courts will continue in the direction of Massachusetts and New Jersey" -- which ignores the fact that the NJ state legislature passed civil unions and will hopefully advance to marriage equality in the next two years.

But the more remarkable part of the memo is this:
As we continue to build our national movement, we would do well to remember what my friend Dr. Walter Fauntroy, organizer of the March on Washington for Martin Luther King, once said when a reporter derisively commented on the difficulty of advancing our cause in Congress:

As Dr. King's personal representative to the House and Senate, I can remember how our efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act were met with opposition year after year. We faced hostile committee chairmen. We faced hostile leaders in both parties -- including many powerful Congressmen from the South. We also faced the scorn of some in the media. But we knew that our cause was just. And we knew that most Americans of goodwill supported our cause. So we came back year after year. At the time, we had a simple saying -- and it's the same saying that would apply to the cause of protecting marriage in our day. We used to say We Shall Overcome.

First of all, marriage equality doesn't seek to tear down anyone's rights -- it will build up families. And second, most King historians attribute the brunt of the organization on the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to another activist: the late Bayard Rustin, a gay man.

Rustin, like King, was a civil rights advocate. At least Daniels and Fauntroy refrain from using those words in claiming King's mantle to deny rights to others, simply for who they are.