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The Root on Amendment One and the bigotry of the black-gay wedge strategy

Nsenga Burton, editor at large of The Root, the influential news and commentary site written from the black perspective,  covered Amendment One. I was interviewed for the piece.

The grassroots efforts to defeat Amendment One here in NC have been remarkable because of the involvement of hundreds of pastors of color openly condemning it. It has been important for me as a North Carolina native and resident to share that success.  The relationships developed before and during this campaign represent a sea change in coalition building not seen in earlier marriage amendment battles. May the communities that came together for this struggle remain strong on all social justice fronts.

Burton unpacks this and the utter hypocrisy of the NOM-based amendment proponents’ naked use of a black vs. gay wedge strategy:

While some North Carolina pastors support the amendment, others, like the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP chapter, are squarely opposed to it. Barber has been at the forefront of championing the fight against Amendment One, because he understands that equal protection under the law should not be confused with religious interests. Barber is not the only clergy member of color fighting against Amendment One. In April, a group of 15 interfaith African American clergy in Greensboro, N.C., took out a full-page ad in the Carolina Peacemaker, a well-known black newspaper in Guilford County, opposing Amendment One. In the Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem region, 100 black clergy have come out against the amendment, so many black Christians in North Carolina are against the erosion of civil rights for certain people.

How sad is it that many who would have voted against giving black folks civil rights in the past are now using said black folks to take away the civil rights of another marginalized group? To think that black folks are that weak-minded and stupid or have forgotten how blacks were scapegoated for the failure of Proposition 8 in California is insulting. Plus, in a stunning example of hypocrisy, the same types of folks who are worried about Muslim lawmakers invoking Shariah law in America want to conflate our laws with Christian values.

She asked me about this grotesque, retrograde strategy. My two cents – it’s doubly enraging because to accomplish it, it must render black LGBTs invisible, a problem many of us as POC are all-too-aware of that sadly occurs within the LGBT movement itself. Moreover, it makes assumptions about what is the “right kind” of faith on this issue, and it promotes a theocratic view of the world that would have persecuted blacks back in the day.

North Carolina is the last state in the South to not have a marriage amendment, and it is one of the most comprehensive of the amendments. Amendment One matters to people of color because there are black gays and lesbians with families that are going to be negatively affected by the amendment. The proponents of the amendment would like to divide the religious and gay [communities], confusing the separation of church and state.

Trying to legislate from this perspective is wrong. If you choose to restrict the civil rights of one group of people, then you can do that to any group of people. You will basically have the majority ruling over a minority. The proponents of the amendment are the same people that would have likely voted to have us drinking from separate water fountains.

…They are exploiting the [socially] conservative religious black community because they can. They have been purposely trying to confuse the matter by saying that all Christians should want to vote a certain way and populations of color should vote the same way. Proponents of Amendment One are populating the commercials with black families, and it is a disgusting tactic.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding