Friday Feedback: Martin Luther King Stood Up for What Is Right

istock_000001483014xsmall.jpgFridays the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by MLM commenting on “Outing King: The Hijacking of the Dream (and the Civil Rights Conversation),” by Anthony Assadullah Samad.

Here’s MLM’s comment:

The author, Samad, seems insulted by the parallels drawn between the gay rights movement and the black civil rights struggle. As an LGBT person, I realize that if I get killed because I’m gay, it’s no different than if I get killed for being black. Either way I’m dead, and the terroristic consequence on other members of my group is just as effective regardless of the murderer’s hateful reasons. That is the first similarity between racism and homophobia. Is racism worse than homophobia? Is./was it harder for blacks than gays? Ask a mom whose gay son was beaten to death how hard it is. More to the point, why should we even have to compare different forms of discrimination and hatred? The death of one mother’s son is one too many, and the institutionalized oppression of any American is against our Constitution, regardless of what your religion tells you about God hating gays. Samad even justifies his opinion by saying that gays can at least HIDE who they are. Jeez.

Another major similarity between oppression of gays and blacks is exemplified by the author’s own words: “While tolerance breeds acceptance of the norm, it doesn’t default to support for modifying core beliefs around cherished institutions.” Well, duh. One of the biggest barriers to racial equality was and still is that our cherished institutions promoted racial inequities. The judge upholding the anti-miscegenation law in the famous court case Loving v. Virginia actually quoted the Bible as justification for preventing marriage between people of different races. Samad says, “The flaw in the gay advocacy is the unreasonable expectation that anyone would go against what they believe, particularly when it is re-enforced by their spiritual belief system.” Good thing King didn’t give up just because racist whites thought God made them superior. Sacred and cherished institutions and beliefs kept black oppressed for far too long. Continuing to deny LGBT citizens equal rights based on archaic, distorted biblical beliefs is just as wrong.

King never advocated for equal rights for homosexuals, and Bayard Rustin, an organizer in King’s organization was held back because of his sexuality. Not surprising, given that even today educated blacks like Samad still want to believe God and the Bible support oppression of gays. Guess what, Samad. No women were in prominent positions in King’s organizations. Gee, maybe that’s because women were oppressed in the same way gays were. Not that we need to compare oppressions now, do we?
If King were alive today would he support gay marriage? I don’t know, but given King’s words and actions, I find it hard to believe that he would be suckered into the kind of thinking that Samad holds so dear. Samad is a heterosexual, religious black man refusing to recognize any similarities between racial injustice and institutionalized oppression of gays, and he out of line to try to speak for Martin Luther King Jr. implying that King wouldn’t have supported equal rights for all, including LGBTs.

Samad claims that gay rights activists tie King to their cause to legitimize their movement. That’s not true; the gay rights movement is legitimate all on its own. Our US Constitution provides for equality, and every single law that oppresses the gay minority is unjust and unconstitutional. If you don’t like the idea of gay marriage, don’t marry someone gay. But my kids don’t have equal rights to children of straight couples, and that is both wrong and mean spirited. Think about that next time you get the chance to vote on whether or not gays should have marriage equality. When you discriminate against gays, you’re discriminating against their heterosexual children as well. Samad wants to discuss morality, as if his distorted religious beliefs dictate morality for American citizens. How about discussing the morality of oppressing children of LGBT citizens?

Finally, Samad says that blacks are not going to be “guilted or bludgeoned” into support of gay rights. That’s probably true, because religious institutions and beliefs had allowed people to justify oppression or others for centuries. Hurting gays is nothing new. We were tortured by the millions by the Catholic Church, murdered by the Nazis and today straight Americans get to vote away our rights. Straight blacks are not going to feel guilty about oppression gays as long as their religious leaders continue to claim we’re some aberration against God’s plan. The fact is, homosexuality is a natural form of human and animal behavior, and probably evolved as part of mammalian social behavior. Being gay is like having brown eyes; it’s likely based on genetic and/or environmental influences and is found in every advanced mammal species and in every corner of the world (except in Iran, where they’ve killed enough of them to cause the rest to hide in fear for their lives). So who’s doing the bludgeoning, Samad? You think drawing parallels between the gay rights movement and the black civil rights struggle is bludgeoning? Really?

Samad says, ”I wish they would stop hijacking King’s dream by an inferred association…” That’s nonsense. King’s dream already includes me, both as an African American and as an LGBT citizen. There is no hijacking going on. King stood for equality, and there are clear parallels between racial injustice and oppression of LGBTs. The only difference today is that men like Samad are still mired in their own homophobic beliefs. Just as racist bigots used the Bible to justify oppression of blacks, Samad is willing to believe that institutionalized oppression of LGBTs is OK.

I don’t care if you believe that whites are better than blacks, or if your religion teaches that the Bible says gays are immoral, you don’t have the right to oppress other citizens. You don’t have the right to deny the benefits of civil marriage to the children of gay citizens. Not in this country. That’s what makes Martin Luther King’s work so powerful – he stood up for what was ethically right, and his demands were in alignment with the Constitution of our great nation: Equal rights for all!


  1. says

    BRAVO to LA Progressive for continuing this debate. GLBT people of color need to be far more visible and countering conservative religion’s myths and lies is also crucial. Rev. King said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Can anyone really believe that he intended for that to EXEMPT some groups of human beings from basic human rights under the law? The term “civil rights” referrs to something ALL of us are supposed to have under law. Dr.King’s widow Coretta Scott King and the NAACP both SUPPORT marriage equality and GLBT civil rights.Finally, too many perpetrators of the very real violence done to GLBT people–average 1,200 violent hate crimes reported annually (many more NOT reported)–include beatings, rape and murder. The perpetrators (most of whom are yong white, Black and Latino males) of these acts often “justify” their violence againt GLBT people, with conservative religious views that are homophobic.Almost every gay man I’ve ever known has been beaten up in homophobic attacks. I’ve known Lesbian and bisexual women who’ve been raped,(including myself) with the attacker(s) saying “this will make you straight”. Transgendered people are especially vulnerable to assault and murder.

    Finally, the debate over marriage equality and other human rights for GLBT people is about CIVIL law–NOT what churches do or don’t do. For churches to impose a single religious view into law is against the basics of the First Amendment’s ban on “establishment of religion”. Dr. King’s message of justice for all has inspired many hundreds of millions around the globe–including GLBT people–and that inspiraiton is NOT “high-jacking King”. To say so, is to make this great human being PUNY and parochial, when he was a giant example to us all.

    • Clara Aburto says

      BRAVO!! This comment says it all, and Dr. King was a man who was big enough to rethink his views when he saw the truth! In other words, a thoughtful reflective leader! We could really use one now! (the state, the country, the anti-war movement)…

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