Monday, January 15, 2007

Deval Invites Gays to King's Table

Those cherry picking civil rights don't seem to have a bright future with our Gov. Deval Patrick. At the King tribute today in Boston, Patrick built on the civil-rights aims and achievements. He went further to iterate his recognition that the marriage-equality fight in Massachusetts is an extension of King's work.

There is a sweet irony and a hopeful sign throughout America as self-identified conservatives and the provincial sorts embrace the messages and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. African Americans are still disadvantaged in the larger culture and work world. Yet overt discrimination is no longer acceptable to most of us.

While cooking dinner, I became aware that Patrick had plainly and accurately evoked King in slamming the anti-same-sex-marriage campaign. We were not at the tribute, but the NPR reporter who was said that the deafening applause and cheers suddenly quieted when Patrick made it clear that civil rights are just that and worthy of respect and protection, as King would have had it.

Both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald wimped out on this. Each runs the same solid story, complete with the supplied Associated Press headline. You'd think that one of the rags would have had reporters there and put an insightful story on their sites. Maybe by tomorrow, they'll rewrite the AP story enough to pretend it was theirs.

Among the remarks that stilled the crowd were:

"Race relations is the only major social ill we're facing in this country that we seem to be seriously considering curing by denial, as if declaring ourselves colorblind in law will make us colorblind in fact," Patrick said, repeating a mantra of "we have much work to do."

The governor said the civil rights movement that King led has grown to include ethnic and racial groups other than blacks. He pointedly said it includes gays and lesbians, a notion that has been rejected by some black activists.

"The struggles of others have taken their rightful place over the years alongside the struggles of black people," Patrick told capacity crowd inside Faneuil Hall.

Patrick indicated his concern over an initiative petition to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

"Whether you support gay marriage or not, and I know views on this are very strong, we are about to take the radical step of using a petition initiative to defeat basic rights," he said. "The use of the petition process to insert discrimination into the constitution and limit freedoms is unprecedented."

Meanwhile, we have heard even from conservative African American ministers as well as the VoteonMarriage people that marriage equality is not a civil rights issue. Some use the spurious argument that people are born with their skin color and, some try to hold, homosexuality is some sort of choice. Not only is that wrong headed, but it cannot be any more wrong hearted.

Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, also made it plain many times that she had no doubt her husband would have fought for these rights as well. As long as eight years ago, she noted how many homosexuals had joined her husband's fight for African American civil rights. Also, she said:
I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.
Well, both Dr. King and his wife are dead. However, their message was plain enough. It remains so.

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Anonymous said...

And I am utterly convinced that King would have firm words for those within the African-American community that do not understand their role, duty, and responsibility to fight today for others in securing civil rights. King would not be one of those who would pull the ladder up until everyone had made it to the ‘promised land’ of full civil rights.

Anonymous said...

MLK would have been apalled at the prospect of same sex marriage.
And I'm sure he's non too pleased at the shabby attempts of ssm advocates to piggy back on the work for which he gave his life.

massmarrier said...

Anonymous, how truly odd that you would assert that. Do go to my linked post and start with Coretta's interview in Reuters. Those who worked with him would certainly disagree with you.

John Hosty said...

I get a real kick out of people that would speak for MLK, but never knew him. His wife knew him, and claimed that if he were alive to see gay marriage, he would be on the side of equality, like always.

Anyone that has bothered to do any research into how MLK felt on gay equality will eventually come across Baynard Rustin, one of MLK's closest advisors, who was openly gay.

So much for the "MLK is a bigot too" argument.

Anonymous said...

Sure Anon, and MLK would have wanted to attack Iraq, too, right?

What seemed to appall Rev. King was injustice and the denial of Civil Rights. He was a brave man who was ahead of his time, and he risked a great deal to oppose the Vietnam War. Why people getting married would upset him is really pretty unclear.