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NGLTF honors seven black leaders

All of these people are honored by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), in recognition of Martin Luther King Day, for their commitment to the civil rights leader’s “expansive vision of social justice” — one that includes civil equality and respect for the LGBT community.

One honoree is Durham’s own Mandy Carter of Southerners on New Ground (SONG); another is Bishop Yvette Flunder, who will be participating in next weekend’s conference in Atlanta on homophobia in the black community, held by the The National Black Justice Coalition.

“These tremendous leaders advance Dr. King’s vision of the ‘beloved community’ — activism that moves beyond securing individual rights to a broader understanding of building a just and compassionate society for all people,” said Matt Foreman, NGLTF’s executive director.


Bishop Carl Bean. The Los Angeles-based Bean founded Unity Fellowship Church to minister to LGBT Christians of color and initiated the Minority AIDS Project (MAP), the first community-based HIV/AIDS organization in the United States to be established and managed by people of color.


Earline Budd. Budd, based in Washington, D.C., founded Transgender Health Empowerment in order to advance the rights of transgender people and works with Us Helping Us to ensure that local transgender people have access to HIV prevention services.


Mandy Carter. Carter has organized at the grassroots in almost every major region of the United States for the past three decades. She is the executive director and a co-founder of the North Carolina-based group Southerners on New Ground (SONG), which aims to “build movement across the South for progressive social change by developing models for organizing that connect race, class, culture, gender and sexual identity.”


Bishop Yvette Flunder. Bay Area resident Flunder founded the City of Refuge Community Church, a thriving action-oriented inner-city congregation that seeks to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry. She also founded a non profit that provides housing, direct services, education and training for persons affected by HIV/AIDS, and serves as presiding bishop of Refuge Ministries/Fellowship 2000, a multi-denominational fellowship of primarily African-American Christian leaders and laity.


Phil Reed. A native New Yorker, Phil Reed served on the New York City Council from 1998 through 2005. Reed worked with Dr. King as a young man, organizing youth boycotts, voter registration drives and protests. Reed has held positions at the East New York HIV/AIDS Project and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which fights against discrimination and provides educational counseling for LGBT youth. As an openly gay and HIV-positive man, he has served on the citywide HIV Planning Council, worked as a longtime community organizer, and has volunteered his time tutoring children after school.


H. Alexander Robinson. Robinson lives in the D.C. metro area and is executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, which educates and mobilizes opinion leaders, including elected officials, clergy and media. He warns that conservatives are “waging a campaign of fear over gay marriage to distract the African-American community? from other social justice issues such as cuts to funding for education and social services.”


Phill Wilson. Wilson, founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, has worked extensively on HIV/AIDS policy, research, prevention and treatment issues in 15 countries. He describes AIDS as not just a health issue but also “an economic issue, a social justice issue, an urban renewal issue, a civil rights issue, a human issue,” advocating a personal approach: “Before you can convince people to save their lives, you have to convince them their lives are worth saving.”

After looking at the talent and commitment by these true leaders who are carrying on Dr. King’s mission, it’s truly sad to have the slain civil rights leader’s daughter — Bernice King — so strongly opposed to full civil equality for LGBT citizens.


As I have mentioned in prior posts, she has said I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he did not take a bullet for same-sex unions.” That’s a hell of a way to carry on her father’s promotion of inclusion, diversity and equality.

This morning, CNN had one of those question of the day features, asking for email responses to the question “Has the message of hope, peace and advancement espoused by Dr. King been diluted over the years?” and they had both Bernice King and fellow homophobe Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of the New Birth Baptist Church near Atlanta, to speak about Dr. King’s message. Boy I wanted to hurl.


Long, in particular has made some memorable comments about homos — and human anatomy.

Woman is the soul of man. She is his flesh consciousness. In essence, God made Eve to help Adam replenish the earth. Woman has the canal…everything else is an exit. God had to separate Adam and Eve where they connected so he could tell them to reconnect in covenant to duplicate Him. In Christ, God puts his seed in us. Any other way is a spiritual abortion. Cloning, Homosexuality and Lesbianism are spiritual abortions. Homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man.”

In 2004 Long organized a march with his 25,000 megachurch in Atlanta (Bernice King helped lead it as well), bringing thousands of people into streets, with its first goal promoting an amendment to ”fully protect marriage between one man and one woman.”

Now that’s expansive thinking in today’s “mainstream” civil rights leadership, huh?

Today on CNN’s Weekend Sunday there were no questions asked of either Long or Bernice King about the controversy over homo-bigotry in the black community and how it can be reconciled with Dr. King’s legacy (as well as Coretta Scott King’s support of gay rights). The topic was completely ignored; it was a complete puff piece interview by CNN newsreader Tony Scott. There’s not anything worth re-posting here, but here’s the transcript if you have time to burn.

Another of those recognized by NGLTF is Alexander Robinson, who has an op-ed on Dr. King over at 365gay.com.

Many have speculated what Dr. King, if he had lived, would think about the current state of American affairs. What would Dr. King say or more importantly do to address the disgraceful fact that African Americans account for 49 pe
rcent of the diagnosed cases of AIDS in the United States , or that over 41 million Americans do not have health insurance, and that more than one-third of children in the United States live at or near poverty? What would Dr. King say about our gay civil rights movement?

While I do not know the answer, I am sure he would not, like Rev. Herbert Lusk, II*, pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia, suggest that prohibiting “same-sex marriage, combating assisted suicide and abortions for minors, and supporting prayer and Christmas celebrations in schools,” should be priorities of our courts, the black church and black communities.

Dr. King never addressed issues of homosexuality in public. However, Dr. King had a long-term alliance and friendship with Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man, who organized the 1963 march in Washington and was one of the most important figures in the Civil Rights Movement’s general history. Dr. King personally did not shun Bayard because of his homosexuality. This, of course, is consistent with Dr. King’s belief that an individual should be judged by the “content of one’s character.”

Dr. King said that we are all “tied together in a single garment of destiny” and that he believed that he could never be what he “ought to be” until we all are allowed to be what we “ought to be.”

Dr. King was a dream catcher-catching and expressing the good ideas, dreams and visions of the people and casting off the evil. Dr. King’s dreams were of unity, selflessness, charity and equality.

* Herb Lusk is another pastor at the faith-based trough. He had his coffers filled with a cool million by the Administration to run faith-based initiatives, and he gave the invocation at the 2000 Republican convention. Lusk called Bush’s 2004 win “a great victory.” His church hosted Justice Sunday III, and he was a featured speaker.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding