Sunday, November 01, 2009

Bernice King Should Publicly Renounce Her Anti-Gay Bigotry

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Bernice King can make history in two ways. She made it first by becoming the first woman in the fifty two year history of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to take the organization’s reins. Now she can make history in another way. She should renounce the anti-gay bigotry of her recent past. That bigotry was on shameful and insulting display in December 2004 when she and thousands of marchers stood at the gravesite of her father, Martin Luther King, Jr., and denounced gay marriage. The implication was that King might well have stood with her and them in their protest against gay rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth. King’s fight against bigotry and discrimination, all bigotry and discrimination, was relentless and uncompromising. If anything that day, King would have been across the street from his gravesite with the hundred or so other counter-demonstrators. They loudly shouted that what Bernice and the marchers were doing at her father’s gravesite and in his name, was a travesty and a disgrace. King sullied her father’s name to show her enmity to gay marriage. She also sullied her mother’s too. A few years before Bernice’s gravesite antic, Coretta Scott King issued a public statement forcefully denouncing anti-gay bigotry and made it perfectly clear that her husband would be a champion of gay rights if he were alive.

Bernice King is an outspoken evangelical, and she and other black evangelicals have marched, protested, wrote letters and circulated petitions denouncing gay marriage. This is (?) her belief and she certainly has the right to express it. That is she has the right as a minister, evangelical, religious fundamentalist, and private citizen. Her anti-gay bias swims forcefully in the main current of conservative evangelical belief, thought, and expression. A significant number of blacks, and a majority of black evangelicals, like her also oppose gay marriage and even gay rights. They rail at the notion that the battle for gay marriage should in any way be called a civil rights fight. And certainly in King's day gay rights was invisible on America's public policy radarscope, and homosexuality, among blacks and whites, was hushed up. There's not a word in any of his speeches or writings about homosexuality or whether he believed the civil rights struggle was inclusive of gays. That’s only because it was not a visible and compelling issue of discrimination then. It is today. And Bernice King now heads up the organization, with her father’s name and stamp all over it, that was founded to fight against discrimination.

ML King, and the ministers, and many of the thousands who fervently believed in and marched with him in support of the ideals of the SCLC would without missing a beat march against gay marriage bans, the hate crime murders and assaults on gays, cheered Congress for ending its years of stalls, dodges, and foot drags to pass the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. The bill adds gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, to existing hate crimes laws. President Obama quickly signed it into law. King would have cheered loudly at its passage too. In fact, the SCC leadership, pre-King’s election as President, also lobbied for it and cheered its passage.

King almost certainly would have vigorously denounced California’s anti gay marriage amendment, Proposition 8, and all other similar initiatives and legislative acts that have encoded anti-gay marriage bans into law. He would have applauded court and state rulings that have upheld gay marriage. He would have pushed SCLC, including those doubting, wavering, and tradition bound ministers in the organization to do the same. This is not revisionism or after the decades fact speculation. King refused to buckle to FBI, and White House pressure, and the pressure from conservatives inside SCLC to dump his chief aid and the architect of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin. He was avowedly gay. It took courage to resist their efforts to oust Rustin. But King deeply believed that embodied in the civil rights cause was a person's right to be whom and what he was. King may have even praised his daughter for having the courage and conviction to march for her beliefs, but that would not have changed his unyielding belief that bigotry is still bigotry, whether it's racial or sexual preference, and must be uncompromisingly opposed.
On its website SCLC clearly says “its mission is to challenge all people of good will, of every persuasion, who believe in the principles espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. to join us.” Presumably that’s the mission of its new president. She can prove it is by publicly renouncing her anti-gay bigotry.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January, 2010.


Greg said...

You contradict yourself in your attempts to puppeteer King's image for your own ends.

You can NOT say, conclusively, that King would have been in support of gay marriage - he was, after all, a Bible-believing CHRISTIAN. It's not a stretch to conclude that he would have supported (even championed) equal protection of homosexuals from slander, abuse and physical attack along with many forms of discrimination. But to say he would support changing the definition of marriage as one man - one woman, is akin to saying he'd support polygamy (in the name of "a person's right to be whom and what" they are).

And to write, on the one hand, "There's not a word in any of his speeches or writings about homosexuality or whether he believed the civil rights struggle was inclusive of gays. That’s only because it was not a visible and compelling issue of discrimination then."

and on the other hand, "King refused to buckle to FBI, and White House pressure, and the pressure from conservatives inside SCLC to dump his chief aid and the architect of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin. He was avowedly gay."

So which was it - homosexuality was NOT visible and compelling enough for Dr. King to mention in ANY of his writings, or it WAS something that he was fully aware of, and had "the courage to resist" efforts to oust Rustin for being gay?

As I said, to claim Dr. King would be against anti-gay discrimination is one thing. To claim he'd support redefining marriage is another entirely.

How about we allow for the fact that he's dead, and make our arguments (one way or another) based on facts, and testimonies of living witnesses, rather than speculation about what revered, dead leaders WOULD HAVE done?

Gay In Alaska said...

Hoonah Alaska Police Chief John Millan made these disrespectful remarks in the policelink website about President Obama

"This is the kind of "community activist" Presidency we can expect for the next 3+ years. High taxes, gun control, gay agenda, retreat and defeat abroad and cop-bashing. Well news flash sports fans, this is the same ACLU lefty who refused to apologize for porta-potties on the police memorial, so what do we expect? Any sworn LEO who voted for this man, all I can say is SHAME."

My question to Chief Millan is, What is wrong with a gay agenda?

Anonymous said...

Actually he was supposedly Galena AK chief at that time but I know Milen and his identity was hacked last fall during a mean divorce when I saw him in Fairbanks. The police got after one person in that case. After he changed his log on it all stopped but then again, he has freedom of speech. Alot of people have issue with the gay agenda being extreme and in-your-face, vs. "live and let live". He has a female friend who is a gay cop and he has always been an advocate of fairness for all.

Anonymous said...

Well after the ACLU and William Ayers (cop killer) connection to Obama and then the porta-potties on the police monument to fallen officers in Oregon, you don't find many cops who are big Obama fans. Then again, gun control and radical liberal politics don't set well with most cops. I was a cop in Texas for 15 years and I don't see anything wrong with what he said. Obama has a serious credibility problem with most cops in America. I got called a nazi for supporting a fence on our border here, so I find that liberals are generally sneaky and maniacal people who leave nameless posts and attack anyone they don't agree with, as they trample on the 1st and 2nd amendments.

Gay in alaska said...

Sorry chief, noone hacked your policelink account. You posted every hateful message that appeared there. Your writing style is too recognizable even when you try to disguise it, lol. You also posted the last two messages in here but nice try.

But hey, just my opinion and my "freedom of speech" you are always talking about.

You are always talking about the 1st and 2nd amendments in policelink as well.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

These are some other hateful comments Chief Millan made in a policelink forum discussion about President Obama and the country of Iran.

"On matters we agree with we should support our President. His success in office is to our benefit. On matters we disagree with (probably gays in the military, liberal supreme court nominees and gun control), then rally our side in appropriate opposition."


"And in response to Iran's head terrorist-Ayatollah and his racial remark (unspecified in the media) about our new Preesident-Elect, Iran can Kiss My Red White and Blue ASS. Mr. Obama is our President-Elect and Iran can get nuked and die from plague for all I care. I hope Iran gets nuked by Israel! TERRORIST SCUM!

C'mon chief, again with the gays. As a gay man I served over 20 honorable years in the military. I retired with honors.

And do you really want Israel to "Nuke Iran"? The majority of Iranians are hardworking, decent and repressed people. They have no control over what their leaders say or do.

Anonymous said...

This chief is truly a POS. What do you have against gay people chief?