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|Coalition wants ‘no wedge’ between black voters, president over gay marriage|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|May 25, 2012 00:00|
A new coalition of LGBT friendly churches and African-American organizations is coming together to combat efforts to drive a wedge between black voters and President Barack Obama in the 2012 election because the president now personally supports same-sex marriage.
Elder Antonio Jones, a gay pastor of Atlanta’s Unity Fellowship, said he and others including the National Black Justice Coalition have formed NoWedge2012.com specifically to start healthy dialogues with black Americans over the issue of marriage equality.
At the May 17 International Day Against Homophobia event held in Hapeville, Ga., Jones said the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage “wants to drive a wedge between the African-American community and the LGBT community.”
“We didn’t start the marriage fight. Usually the fight comes to us,” he said. “We have started NoWedge2012.com to conquer their campaign.”
In a phone interview, Jones said the No Wedge campaign doesn’t have as broad a base as NOM, but “we want to make sure we are on the radar.”
With Obama’s recent support of same-sex marriage and the NAACP also making a statement in support of marriage equality, Jones said he and others are trying to galvanize a cross-section of the LGBT and African American communities.
The goal is to send a message to NOM — and to those who voted for a constitutional amendment in North Carolina prohibiting same-sex marriage — that the African American community is a diverse group of people capable of supporting all civil rights, including same-sex marriage.
“We want to dispel that myth that the African American community has no tolerance,” he said.
But why does the black church face so much stigma when it comes to LGBT issues, when there are also plenty of white churches that preach hate against gay people?
“The reason the black church gets a bad rap is because it is very charismatic in how we deliver our messages,” Jones said. “Our messages tend to be more brazen than our white counterparts.”
Sharon Lettman-Hicks is executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, which works on LGBT issues. A No Wedge participant, Lettman-Hicks said it is time for “honest dialogue with black LGBT people.”
“Now our moral leadership has spoken,” she said. “It is time to start having healthy conversations.”
There is no doubt that NOM and others have co-opted the evangelical right, she added, but now is the time to get started on bringing more awareness of black LGBT people into the churches and into African-American communities themselves.
“We will not let them divide our community,” she said.
Jones preached at the IDAHO event that the black community is filled with diversity and that diversity will survive the attacks made by organizations such as NOM who wish to conquer and divide the black community through political strategies.
“I have great hope because I believe lies don’t live forever. Lies are founded in fear. And what is homophobia? Fear,” Jones said.
“We will not allow fear to defeat us. When the president let us know we do matter, we know our community has the ability to hold different positions. We ain’t going nowhere. We’ve come to far to turn around. We going to stand until justice is served,” he said.
Top photo: Elder Antonio Jones of Unity Fellowship Church speaks about No Wedge,’ a new coalition to combat efforts to divide the LGBT community and black community. (by JD Harville)
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