Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights icons Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, is interviewed in the August issue of Atlanta Magazine by noted author Rebecca Burns as part of her story on the minister and CEO of the King Center. The story and interview will be available online on Aug. 1 but is available now to subscribers of the magazine. Retailers will also be selling the magazine next week.
The story is a good read for those interested in the King family dynamic and drama in recent years and touches on and the tense relationships between Bernice King and her brothers Martin III and Dexter over the operations of the King Center and the MLK legacy itself.
Burns is author of "Burial for a King," the story of MLK's funeral in Atlanta in the midst of social and racial riots taking place across the country. At the end of her interview, she asks Bernice King specifically about her stance on gay issues.
King told Burns:
People have labeled me homophobic. If I was homophobic, I wouldn't have friends who are gay and lesbian, so that can't be true. But because I have a certain belief system, I am now the enemy. And I'm not the enemy. I have love for everybody, period. I don't think it's my role and responsibility to take on a platform unless God calls me to do it. That's not something I feel called to do.
For many years, those in the LGBT community have felt betrayed by Bernice King's public aversion toward gay and lesbian people even though her mother was an outspoken advocate and fierce ally for LGBT equality.
In 2004, Bernice King famously led a march alongside Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church of thousands through the streets of Atlanta to protest same-sex marriage.
Long, known for his anti-gay sermons and beliefs, later settled with four young men for a great deal of money after they sued him for sexually exploiting them. That scandal led Bernice King to leave New Birth — the same church where her mother's funeral was held.
But in January 2012, Bernice King shocked LGBT people by including them in a speech at the annual MLK rally at the King Center as part of the city's annual celebration of her father's birthday.
King, though, still seems to carry some kind of grudge against gay people. She also still opposes marriage equality but, apparently, will not work for policies and laws prohibiting same-sex marriages.
She tells Burns:
When my mother was living they tried to pit us against each other. I love my mother and she loved me. They couldn't divide true love. We had good conversations concerning this whole issue. But I think we have to be careful in our nation that we don't demonize everyone who doesn't agree with us. … I value marriage between a man and woman. Spiritually I value that. Psychologically I value that. I know that the absence of my father in my life had its cost.
"So, your gay and lesbian friends, you wouldn't want them to be able to marry?" Burns asks.
"I wouldn't marry them. But I don't dictate that. That's society's call," King answers.
And society is leaning forward more and more each and every day for marriage equality.
What do you think of King's thoughts on LGBT people?
Photo: Bernice King (via Facebook)