The Supreme Court’s recent announcements that it will weigh in on the matter of same-sex marriage comes at a time when the union of gay couples is receiving increasing acceptance, including in Black America.
Indeed, same-sex marriage has been championed or highlighted across a wide swath of African-American life, from the head of the NAACP to Jet magazine, which for the first time included the nuptials of two men in its wedding section.
“Black people are reading this issue differently now,” said James Braxton Peterson, who is the director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University, in an interview with BET.com.
“I think Black folks understand that, from a human perspective, we can’t discriminate against people who are in our families and who are our friends,” Peterson said.
He added that many Black people have been offended by religious leaders who denounced homosexuality and same-sex marriage from the pulpit “only to discover that these ministers were themselves engaging in gay acts. Black people don’t like hypocrisy.”
Black Americans have long been considered as being more conservative on the topic of same-sex marriage than their white counterparts. But polls have indicated that there has been an increase in support for same-sex marriage among African-American respondents, more or less in proportion to the views of the larger population.
A Pew Research poll in October 2011 indicated that 62 percent of Black Protestants oppose same-sex marriage.
However, in a recent Edison Research exit poll, 51 percent of Black voters supported recognizing same-sex marriage in their states and 41 percent were opposed. Among white respondents, 47 percent were in favor and 49 percent were opposed, the poll stated.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and chief executive of the NAACP, called the civil rights group’s support of marriage equality to be a matter “deeply rooted in the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”
The wide acceptance has come after a year in which the nation’s first African-American president voiced his support for same-sex unions and after Jealous championed the NAACP’s support of gay unions.
Mitzi Miller, the editor of Jet, said that the decision to include the wedding of two men “wasn’t a calculated move at all,” she said, speaking to NPR. “They are just a lovely couple.”
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(Photo: USA-GAYMARRIAGE/ REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)