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Column: Homophobia In The Black Community

This story was written by Robert Reece, Daily Mississippian
After the Nov. 4 elections, I was very surprised and disappointed by the passage of Proposition 8. It effectively eliminates the right of same sex couples to marry in California, which makes a claim to be one of, if not the most, liberal states in the nation. But I was even more disappointed with the black population of California, though not entirely surprised, who voted (according to some sources), more than 70 percent in support of the proposition.

Ive noticed in the black community, especially in black males, that there is a massive amount of rampant homophobia, but that doesnt change the fact that marriage should be a basic right.

Its ridiculous for people to spend so much time and energy attempting to prevent others from being happy, but that isnt even the issue I plan to raise.

Its that black people should be able to relate to the plight of the gay and lesbian community. I seem to recall blacks being forced to participate in a struggle for rights as well. I think it was called the 300 years between 1654 and 1964.

How hypocritical can we be as a people to demand equal rights for ourselves but vote to deny them to other people? And I understand the church has a strong place in the black community and that a lot of people claim to have religious reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. That shouldnt even be a factor because the issue isnt whether you think its morally right to be gay; the question is, Do you think that same-sex couples should have the right to marry?

How can we justify using religion and the Bible to refuse someone rights when Southern slave owners quite often used that same book to justify slavery?

(And not only to justify the institution of slavery but to justify the beatings and a lot of the excessively cruel treatment that the slaves had to endure.) They, just as we do today, quoted scriptures that they felt validated their actions and, just as we do today, would have been appalled at their piety being called into question.

Religion, in our time, has had very little to do with marriage, as marriage has become more of a legal agreement than a religious union.

After all, even atheists get married, and no one tells them that they cant because we must preserve the religious sanctity of the institution of marriage.

So I must once again stress that this shouldnt be a religious issue at all. Its a civil rights issue.

Has the black population become so calloused to the civil rights of others? After weve worked so hard to gain ours, have we now forgotten about that struggle and become indifferent to the struggle of others? We should be much more sympathetic to the plight of the gay and lesbian community than other people, seeing as we were in a similar situation just 50 years ago.

Equal rights is equal rights; there are no exceptions. You cant say, Everyone has equal rights under the law except the gay and lesbian community because the Bible says that is an abomination. The law doesnt work that way, but for years it was said in this country, All white people are equal but there is something different about those dark-skinned people, so we dont think well treat them fairly.

Now that we have equal rights, (at least thats what the law says) have we joined the other side? Shameful.