Virtual Voices

NAACP: Help us defend the civil right of marriage

Issues

The NAACP is in the headlines again. This old and respected civil rights organization is taking the unwise step of condemning the Tea Party for alleged racism. Those allegations include unsubstantiated charges that Tea Partiers rallying at the Capitol against passage of the unconstitutional healthcare takeover had yelled racial epithets at black congressman walking from their offices to the House of Representatives to cast historic votes. They yelled the "N-word," the congressmen claimed. But no one seems to be able to produce any video, any audio, or any sworn statements naming names, or even pointing to specific yellers.

When asked why they chose to walk through a crowd of anti-Obamacare demonstrators, these liberal congressmen disingenuously replied: It was the first day of spring. Right. And Gov. Mark Sanford wanted to enjoy the spring air hiking the Appalachian Trail, too.

I want to remind my conservative friends why the NAACP is revered in the black community. In the early 1900s, when hundreds of communities in this land of liberty were in the grip of the murderous Ku Klux Klan, when hundreds of black Americans were lynched every year for daring to exercise their right to vote, when local law enforcement, editors, and jurors ignored the plight of black Americans, the NAACP was there to champion civil rights for the oppressed.

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It was the NAACP lawyers, led by Thurgood Marshall, who fought against these atrocities for decades--all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They appealed to the high court to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). That unjust ruling affirmed racial segregation. Success crowned the NAACP's efforts in the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954). An Eisenhower appointee, Chief Justice Earl Warren, wrote t court's 9-0 opinion in that case. Ike and Warren were Republicans.

For these and many other courageous actions, the NAACP deserves the gratitude of all Americans. But this legendary organization is risking its honored legacy when it cries wolf and hurls baseless charges of racism against Americans who are exercising their civil rights to protest against radical policies coming out of Washington, D.C.

What the NAACP should be doing is joining social conservatives in preserving marriage, which comes under further assault every day. For instance, a rogue judge in Boston has just ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. He says that by refusing to recognize unions of a man and a man or a woman and a woman as a marriage, the federal government is engaging in invidious discrimination. Not true.

Traditional marriage has been affirmed in 31 state referenda. And black voters have given it strong support wherever and whenever it has appeared on the ballot. For example, black Californians provided the margin of victory for Proposition 8 in 2008.

Why is this? Black Americans are not bigoted against homosexuals. Instead, what black voters are saying is that marriage is a civil right of Americans, that these attempts to counterfeit marriage are destroying the very idea of the institution. If everyone can marry, no one can marry. There will be no such thing as marriage.

We were right to applaud when the Supreme Court struck down laws that banned interracial marriage. But those laws were not the same as limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

If we allow two men to marry, or two women, why not permit three? Why not two men and two women? Why not two brothers? Why not a father and his daughter?

There are religious communities in the world that permit polygamy. If the courts overturn the basic structure of marriage the adherents to polygamy in this country would be perfectly justified in demanding legal recognition of multiple spouses.

Black Americans have a special need for marriage to be protected. For too long federal anti-poverty and welfare programs discouraged marriage, especially in our inner cities. This breakdown in marriage has contributed to a national out-of-wedlock birthrate of 40 percent and an out-of-wedlock birthrate in the black community of nearly 70 percent.

This has not always been the case. At the time of Pearl Harbor, 89 percent of black children were born to intact families. With the help of groups like the NAACP, we could restore a culture of marriage in all our communities.

The NAACP could take the lead in promoting traditional marriage. Civil Rights leader the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Washington's former delegate in Congress, sees no inconsistency in promoting civil rights and defending the institution of marriage. Neither do I.

Marriage is not, as The New York Times alleges, a "wedge issue." It's a bridge issue. Hawaii, President Obama's home state, was the first to have a non-white majority and the first to pass a pro-traditional marriage referendum. Marriage bridges racial, ethnic, and religious differences. It wins in liberal states---like California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Maine---and in conservative states like Virginia, Georgia, and Texas.

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