The NAACP is getting involved in the civil rights fight of our generation – the fight for LGBT rights. As someone who's tried my best to show that not only is the gay community made up of all races, but gay issues adversely affect racial minorities at a disproportionate rate, I'm very happy to see that the NAACP not only understands the issue but they're forcefully pushing back on it.
“The NAACP is opposed to discrimination in all its forms,” Jealous said in an e-mail, adding: “We recognize that many of our members are also members of the LGBT community, and just as the LGBT community counts on us to stand with it for basic civil rights protections, so we count on the LGBT community to stand with us in our unified struggle for the broader civil rights agenda.”
As I've written before:
Gay people face poverty at higher levels. Lesbian women face EXTREMELY high poverty levels. The CAP notes, “The study found that 6.9 percent of lesbian couples, 4.0 percent of gay male couples, and 5.4 percent of married heterosexual couples are living below the federal poverty line. The poverty rate for families with children is 9.4 percent for lesbian families, 5.5 percent for gay male families, and 6.7 percent for heterosexual married families. The poverty rate for lesbian couples 65 years of age and older is particularly high, with 9.1 percent living below the poverty line compared to 4.9 percent for gay male couples 65 or older and 4.6 percent for heterosexual married couples 65 and older.”
Another study notes that the government punishment of banning our marriages and government protected employment discrimination are huge factors in creating poorer gay people. Far from being white and affluent, the LGBT community is multiracial and living in poverty.
Studies have shown that black lesbian women are worse off economically than white lesbian women, but it turns into basically a tiered system. At the top are the few wealthy white male couples. Economic, racial and gender privilege play a huge role in everyone's lives, and not necessarily in a good way. Ben Jealous attended Manhttan's LGBT Community Center – the first time a member of the NAACP visited the center – and talked with LGBT people about coalition building. By all accounts he received a warm welcome and the discussion was productive. Jealous is helping to expand the October 2nd march to include both NAACP and gay groups, in hopes of working together and solving some of our biggest problems:
The One Nation Working Together rally planned for Washington on October 2, with its focus on “jobs, justice, and education,” will — not surprisingly — voice traditional progressive demands like a living wage and an end to racial profiling, but the massive gathering of leading civil rights and labor organizations breaks new ground in its embrace of full equality for the LGBT community.
That was the message that Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, brought to New York City on September 22, in the first visit by a leader of the venerable civil rights organization to Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center.
A Rhodes Scholar who formerly worked at Amnesty International on issues of prison rape, the criminal justice system’s treatment of juvenile offenders, and racial profiling, Jealous earned a warm response from a crowd of more than 100 with a discussion about the possibilities for progressive change through coalition politics; his remarks showed him well versed in LGBT issues. Mentioning having in his family both HIV and a gender-nonconforming brother who’s been beaten up, Jealous talked about the NAACP’s advocacy for black gay student victims of homophobic violence at the hands of African-American attackers in a Coffee County, Georgia college; the school responded by kicking those assaulted out of their dorm.
Take a look at this coalition:
The Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Justice Coalition, GetEQUAL, Equality Wisconsin and the National Center for Transgender Equality are among the myriad of LGBT, labor and other progressive organizations that have endorsed the march.
“We are coming together-people of all faiths, nationalities and races to demand that everyone have the opportunity to work at a good job, that every child be able to go to a great school and that justice for all be a reality; not just a promise,” he said. “Our movement strives to make real the promise of America for everyone.”
And that's just a handful of the groups that will attend. Groups from every single issue org that you can imagine either endorsed the march or will be attending themselves. This is nothing short of an enormous victory for human rights for all Americans. I'm thrilled that the NAACP is reaching out to us. Now, we need to decide how we can reach back and do it effectively and helpfully. That is a conversation we all need to have.
We are all in this together and if any of us are struggling it's on all of us to help each other. Let's build each other up and make our country a stronger and more tolerant place.