African Americans, who are among the most outspoken critics of gay rights, should have a deep understanding of the struggle that homosexual and lesbian people face, the chairman of the NAACP said Sunday.
"Black people of all people should not oppose equality, and that is what marriage is all about," said Julian Bond, who has headed the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights group for more than a decade. "We have a lot of real and serious problems in this country, and same-sex marriage is not one of them. Good things don't come to those who wait, but they come to those who agitate."
Bond was speaking to the thousands of gay-rights supporters who marched from the White House to the Capitol Sunday, demanding that President Obama keep the pledges he made to end the military policy of “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” – which ignores one’s homosexuality as long as it is kept in the closet – and overall discrimination against gay people.
In fact, many of those who descended upon the nation’s capital this past weekend were there to express their impatience with what they say has been the Obama administration’s failure to make good on those promises. Critics argue that the president has been vague on plans to address discrimination, completely ignoring any timetable for eradicating the current gays-in-the-military policy.
Speaking a day before the march at the annual black-tie dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay-rights group in the United States, Obama said it is not fair to expect gay Americans to be “patient” in their quest for equality. “I appreciate that many of you don't believe progress has come fast enough,” Obama said, “but it’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to council patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago.”
But, Obama added, “we have made progress, and we will make more. My commitment to you is unwavering,” even as America grapples with such gargantuan problems as the faltering economy and the threat of terrorism. “Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we seek,” he continued. “We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we are fighting two wars. …I will end don’t ask, don’t tell. …”