As the NAACP celebrates 100 years in existence as the largest organization working on behalf of civil rights for people of color many are wondering if the century old civil rights group is still relevant, and many in the gay community are disappointed that the NAACP isn't taking a national stance on LGBT rights, specifically marriage equality.
In an interview with CNN last month NAACP president Benjamin Jealous shocked the gay community by saying" the NAACP didn't take a national position on gay marriage."
Jealous expounded on NAACP's position on LGBT rights and his thoughts on the lack of outreach to communities of color in an interview in the New York Times over the weekend.
From The New York Times:
The N.A.A.C.P., which just held its 100th annual convention amid much fanfare, was founded to advance civil rights. Why has the organization failed to take a stand on same-sex marriage, one of the most urgent civil rights issues of our day?
Jealous: We’re engaged in fighting a whole range of issues of urgent relevance to the gay community and people of color in our country, including school bullying, hate crimes and employment discrimination. But we’re a barge, not a speedboat. We’re not going to repeat the mistakes of so many other institutions that have literally torn themselves apart over this divisive issue.
Exit polling suggested that 70 percent of black voters — the largest by far of any minority group — voted to make gay marriage illegal in California by voting in favor of Proposition 8 last fall. How do you explain that? The bond between black culture and church culture?
Jealous: You’re looking at this from 50,000 feet. I’m looking at if from the ground, and I know that church leaders are on both sides of the debate. Black voters have been scapegoated — so many pundits blamed the passage of Proposition 8 on them. But it would have passed even if 100 percent of the black voters had voted against it.
Why do you think it’s such a divisive issue in the black community?
Jealous: If gay rights groups want to change the opinion polls in the black community, they have to invest in it. It’s a long-term conversation. The battle to oppose Prop 8 could have been much better run. They came to the black community late, with the expectation that they were going to get certain results.
So you think gays should mobilize blacks instead of expecting you to?
Jealous: That’s exactly right.