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NBJC Commends the NAACP’s Support of Marriage Equality


Washington, D.C. – May 19, 2012 – Today, the NAACP released a resolution supporting marriage equality. The organization’s board of directors voted to support the freedom to marry as a continuation of its commitment to equal protection under the law. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, commends the NAACP for this historic step.

“As a Life Member of the NAACP, I am happy to see the organization join the President of the United States in ‘evolving’ and follow the powerful example of civil rights icons and Black voices like Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Julian Bond, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and others who have said committed LGBT couples and families deserve the same protections as everyone else,” says Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. “Family is the epicenter of Black life, community and culture. For Black LGBT people, its importance is just as great.”

The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the organization has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which instituted a constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Studies show that Black lesbian partners parent at almost the same rate as Black heterosexual couples. In comparison to their white counterparts, both Black gay and lesbian couples are more likely to be raising children. Robbed of the 1,138 federal protections and benefits available to married couples, including Social Security survivors benefits, Medicaid spend-down protections, and workers' compensation, Black same-sex families are disproportionately put in harm’s way. Despite these challenges, Black gay men and lesbians continue to care for children in need of a loving and supportive home. According to the LGBT Families of Color: Facts at a Glance Report, same-sex partners who become foster parents are more likely to be families of color than among heterosexual married couples. Yet 40 states plus the District of Columbia are silent on fostering by LGBT parents, while 2 states restrict it. Same-sex couples also face uncertainty about joint adoption in 28 states and are prohibited entirely in 5 other states.

“Outdated anti-gay laws and mindsets disproportionately undermine Black families,” adds Lettman-Hicks. “When you deny loving and committed same-sex couples equal protection under the law, you’re inflicting an even greater blow on LGBT families of color whose challenges are compounded by both race and orientation.

As a voice of Black leadership, the NAACP can help the country understand that the fight for equality isn’t about ‘Black vs. gay,’ but that there are loving couples and families at the intersection who are a part of the Black/African American narrative.”

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.