Last Saturday, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) officially came out and declared their support for same-sex marriage. According to USA Today, the organization now sees the issue as comparable to civil rights.
Ironically, this stance fails to comport with a large sector of the African-American population. Roughly 62% of blacks are against same-sex marriage, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in October 2011. This is not alarming news, as it was clear that blacks are in favor of traditional marriage which was evident in the 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage in the state of California, which African-Americans supported overwhelmingly.
The timing of the NAACP’s support for same-sex marriage is undeniably alarming and perplexing. It follows President Obama’s public endorsement of the issue on May 9th. The underlining tone from the NAACP is pretty clear and doesn’t need much deciphering: Get behind President Obama. It’s quite that simple. The NAACP, which is supposed to be a non-partisan organization, has betrayed the principles that matter so dearly to the black community to join forces with President Obama’s secular agenda.
While it is not surprising to see the NAACP applaud the efforts of the nation’s first African-American president, it is irresponsible of them to put a divisive political issue ahead of what truly is affecting the black community—high unemployment rate, a weak economy and lack of jobs.
Also, their call for racial harmony has been questioned by many due to their hypocritical and impeccable acts at times. In 2006, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond compared the GOP to Nazis and compared judicial nominees of then-President George W. Bush to the Taliban. Not only did this cause a strain with the administration, but it temporarily but race-relations on hold. It is this divisive and toxic rhetoric that compels many to not take the NAACP’s agenda seriously.
If the NAACP wants to advance an agenda that parallels President Obama’s policies, I would encourage them to engage in discussions of how jobs can be available in the black community. The current deficit, debt and fragile economy will impact the black community more directly than same-sex marriage. The fact that many recent college graduates are facing difficulty finding jobs takes precedent among many blacks before the debate over marriage.
Has the NAACP challenged the president over the high unemployment rate among African-Americans? In April, blacks saw a troubling 13% rate in unemployment. To not engage the first black president about these depressing numbers does not do justice to the black community.
The NAACP, if it desires to regain its historic status as a valid and vigorous voice for the advancement of African-Americans, must engage in discussion and advocate for policy that will help blacks compete in today’s economy, and must also be willing to respect the views of African-Americans without aligning itself to the partisan tactics of politics today.