At last July’s annual NAACP convention in Los Angeles, NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous, who has long been pro-gay, stopped by the group’s panel on LGBT issues. The event got a little heated when No More Down Low TV executive producer Earnest Winborne asked Jealous, “‘How can the LGBT community take the NAACP seriously, when its current board members are out saying that gay rights are not civil rights’ - referring to current NAACP board member Rev. Keith Ratliff recent statement ‘Gay community stop hijacking the civil rights movement.’" (See Jealous’ response here.) NAACP Chair Emeritus Julian Bond, however, has repeatedly said HE thinks the LGBT struggle for equal right is a civil rights movement – at the NAACP convention, for instance, and at the Human Rights Campaign gala where he was honored. Since the July convention, Jealous and NAACP chapters have repeatedly spoken out about discrimination against LGBT people (such as the North Carolina chapter denouncing that state’s efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage).
NAACP President Ben Jealous and In The Meantime Men Executive Director Jeffrey King at the NAACP LGBT panel July 2011 (Photo by Karen Ocamb)
One key issue pressed during the NAACP convention was the very serious attack on the right of people to vote - the SAME issue that civil rights leaders – including gay leader Bayard Rustin – fought and died for to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On Friday, Jealous sent a message to supporters asking for help fighting this latest assault on the US Constitution, a fight important to us all: