MLK’s civil rights group threatens to fire local leader for opposing Prop 8, supporting marriage equality

Here’s something to get your blood boiling in the morning. I’d written earlier about how the NAACP is squirming a tad over gay rights. Well, now so is Martin Luther King’s own civil rights group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

And don’t worry, I’ve posted their phone number and a link to their Web form at the bottom of this post. From the LA Times:

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights group partly founded by Martin Luther King Jr., has threatened to fire the president of its Los Angeles chapter because he supports same-sex marriage.

The Rev. Eric P. Lee, president of the local SCLC chapter for two years, became an outspoken advocate of same-sex marriage during the recent campaign against Proposition 8, an amendment to the state Constitution that banned such unions.

The SCLC national board notified Lee on May 27 that he would have to attend a hearing at its Atlanta headquarters on June 4 to explain his stance on same-sex marriage. If he did not show up, they said, they would suspend and fire him.

More from the Nation:

Simply put a national civil rights organization that takes a “neutral position” on an issue of basic civil rights does not deserve to exist. Whatever the personal beliefs and prejudices of individual leaders of the SCLC, the organization’s mission as a “nonprofit, non-sectarian, inter-faith, advocacy organization that is committed to non-violent action to achieve social, economic, and political justice” requires that it stand forcefully against efforts to impose second class citizenship on an entire group simply because of identity.

In my view, the failure of the SCLC as a national organization to defend the dignity and equality of LGBT families disqualifies it as a civil rights organization….

The SCLC seems to also have forgotten the complexity of its history. They behave as though they don’t remember that the architect of 1963 March on Washington was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man whose fierce pacifism and commitment to non-violence is the very basis of King’s strategy. Without Rustin there is no March on Washington, no sustained nonviolent movement in the South, and therefore no 1964 Civil Rights Act and no 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Bayard Rustin in all his gay, brilliant, brave, blackness is a cornerstone of the SCLC. Virulent opposition to marriage equality defames the memory of their own son. This is not only about empathy; it is about self-knowledge.

Feel free to contact the SCLC and explain to them what the meaning of “civil rights” really is. I suggest you refrain from being vulgar or threatening, but other than that, these folks need to hear from you, and they need to know how they’re destroying their own reputation in the civil rights community. We are the civil rights community, and no amount of institutionalized bigotry is going to take that away from us. And feel free to quote some of Coretta Scott King’s statements about gay rights.

DR. BYRON C. CLAY, President & CEO
Ron Woods, Executive Director
SCLC Tel:404.522.1420 (Georgia)
And contact them via their Web form.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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