Black Religious Leaders Denounce Anti-Gay Amendment
by Matt Johns
Los Angeles Bureau
Posted: March 19, 2004 12:01 am. ET
(Los Angeles, California) Sixty 60 black activists and religious leaders Thursday called for the legalization of same-sex marriage and denounced a proposed amendment to the US Constitution to ban gays from marrying.
"This issue is not a gay issue, it's a human issue," said Rev. Leslie Burke of the non-denominational Unity Fellowship in Church of Christ.
Burke told the rally at the historic Leimert Park that her descendants were slaves who were forbidden to marry and "had to jump the broom," a reference to a ritual created by black slaves who could not legally marry.
Supporters carried signs saying "We all deserve the freedom to marry." The rally was organized by the National Black Justice Coalition, and included members of the National Alliance of Positive Action, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and the United Lesbians of African Heritage.
Among the protestors were Jewel Thais-Williams, 57, and her partner of year years, 64-year-old Rue Thais-Williams.
"We are here to celebrate in public our desire to make our union legal," said Jewel Thais-Williams. "We need to be recognized. We are not trying to change anything."
Earlier this month in Washington, NAACP Director Hilary Shelton told a senate subcommittee hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment that national black leaders were opposed to any amendment that would limit the civil rights of any particular group.
"The NAACP is greatly disappointed that President George Bush and others have decided to enter this election cycle by endorsing an amendment that would forever write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution, rather than focusing on the crucial problems and challenges that affect the lives of all of us," testified Shelton. (story)