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Not enough

Some of the establishment black leadership are heading out to combat the seduction of black churchgoers to the evangelical camp of social conservatism.

The message is not surprising — tell voters not to focus on gay-bashing, but to pay attention to the litany of ways that the conservative Republicans have let minorities and the poor down. (365gay):

Prominent black leaders said they will work to combat Christian conservatives they say have used gay marriage and abortion to distract from larger moral issues such as the war, voting rights, affirmative action and poverty.

The Revs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Joseph Lowery and hundreds of black leaders from around the country are focusing on mobilizing black voters for the fall elections. They kicked off a three-day black clergy conference Monday in Dallas.

There are no gay people coming to our churches asking to get married,” Sharpton said. “But there are plenty of people coming with problems voting or their sons in jail.”

Sharpton said tours are planned of swing states starting in July to bring out black voters and push Democrats to take a tougher stand on social justice issues.

You see what’s going on here, right? Sharpton knows better, but he’s using the same Dem dodge — he’s not making a case for why the homobigotry is wrong, only that gay issues are a smokescreen distracting the average black voter from “more important” matters.

I don’t have a problem with leveraging the failure of this Administration into votes (it’s provided a mile-long list of outrages), but it’s clear, based on the level of homophobia, that voters can and do need leadership and framing on this issue to combat the bible-beating right wing. A significant portion of voters do need to hear from leadership that state amendments and measures to restrict gay adoption/fostering rights, for example, play upon the fears and worst aspects of people — they are wrong — and it’s the conservative evangelical movement that has lead the way in fear-mongering.

We, as individual out gays and lesbians make a difference in changing hearts and minds by living our lives, but when religious leadership continually deflects the issue away from why the position of the evangelical right on gay civil equality is morally wrong, it’s a lost opportunity and a clear signal to the bigots that support on the center-left for LGBT citizens is wavering at best.

Lowery and Sharpton have, to date, been quite supportive of civil equality. It’s no surprise that media hogging, self-aggrandizing Jackson, however, would punt on the issue. In 2004 supported “equal protection under the law” for gay couples, but does not support SSM — he believes “In my culture, marriage is a man-woman relationship.”

Another ad from Faith In America. Read my earlier post on the work of this organization.

An interesting read: Keith Boykin‘s Village Voice piece, Whose Dream? — Why the black church opposes gay marriage.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding