The Washington Blade along with Alexander H. Robinson, President of The National Black Justice Coalition reveals some rather sad but not surprising data on the attitudes of African-Americans towards marriage equality.
While it seems other communities are being educated about the lives of gays and lesbians and are moving towards equality, as many as two thirds of African-Americans are defiant and not only reject gay marriage but any legal recognition for gay couples including civil unions.
Released in April, the National Black Justice Coalition report notes that blacks “are virtually the only constituency in the country that has not become more supportive over the last dozen years” of gay rights.
It says Asian-Pacific Islanders showed the highest rate of support for gay marriage or civil unions at 55 percent. Support among whites was at 46 percent, among Latinos at 35 percent and among blacks at 23 percent.
The report notes those findings reflected “strong gains in each of these groups except for blacks.”
Of course these findings have sparked a huge debate among those who have long believed blacks were more homophobic than other groups and even more likely to harass or become physical with persons who identified openly as LGBT. But it's important to note that LGBT people face challenges with acceptance from all communities.
Several prominent, straight black leaders have tried to help drum up support for same-sex unions.
Among those who have announced support for gay marriage are Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. who died in 2006; activist and former Democratic presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton; and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a prominent civil rights leader.
Julian Bond, chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also is an ardent supporter of equal rights for gays.
“Many gays, many lesbians, worked side by side with me in the civil rights movement,” he said in 2005. “Am I supposed to tell them now thanks for risking their lives and their limbs to help me win my rights but that they are excluded because of the circumstances of their birth? Not a chance.”
Robinson said gay rights activists working to win new allies often are challenged to overcome the suspicions and fears that are held by many black Americans.
"They see it as about much more than marriage. It’s about trying to normalize homosexuals and homosexual behavior. You have to understand how much of a threat that, potentially, these numbers suggest we’re under. I can’t help but fear that if left unchecked, that this will begin to erode support for other measures of protecting gay and lesbian people, because that’s how prejudice works,” Robinson said.