Posted Oct. 26, 2007 – Agreeing that the gay struggle for the right to marry is a “civil rights issue,” a Baltimore-based group of Black leaders have formed an organization to support same-sex marriages in Maryland.
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Elbridge James, former political action chairman for the Maryland National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he was shocked recently to learn that his fraternity brothers concurred with his belief that everybody should have the right to marry.
"We're talking about a Black fraternity that has had issues with homophobia," James told The Baltimore Sun. "But I think when you get the message out, and people start to listen, they realize the question is about respecting others' rights."
James and other mostly heterosexual Black activists announced the formation of the Maryland Black Family Alliance, to help fight for same-sex marriages, at Morgan State University Thursday.
"There's a scarcity of information on this issue in the Black community," said James. "The Black press doesn't cover it; talk radio doesn't cover it. ... We have this sort of 'don't ask, don't tell policy' in our community."
The alliance wants to convince African Americans, especially Black elected officials, that the link between gay rights and civil rights is clear.
"Our voice is very important to this movement," said Lea Gilmore, a founding member. "African-Americans, perhaps more than another other group in the U.S., understand discrimination. So we are natural allies in this movement."
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