BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A civil rights champion speaks out in support of same-sex marriage in Maryland.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains how the former chairman of the NAACP is impacting the marriage equality debate.
Julian Bond is nationally recognized as a champion of civil rights.
“As chairman emeritus of the NAACP, I know a little something about fighting for what’s right and just,” he said in an ad.
And in his view, that includes same-sex marriage.
“Gay and lesbian couples in Maryland have the same values as everyone else,” said Sultan Shakir, Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality are pleased to have Bond’s endorsement.
“Dr. Bond gets it. He gets that all couples, all committed couples really want the same thing,” Shakir said.
But Bond’s YouTube statement is a huge disappointment to Maryland’s organized black clergy.
“I had the highest esteem for him because he was a great civil rights leader; however, at this point my stock in him has gone completely down because the Bible is right. Same-sex marriage is wrong,” said Dr. John Lunn, Baltimore Baptist Ministers Conference.
A Gonzales poll shows that while a majority of white Marylanders favor changing the marriage law, 59 percent of African-Americans are opposed.
Some African-American leaders in Maryland who support gay marriage are making it a civil rights issue and they’re drawing fire.
“Now remember the real civil rights movement started in the church and so civil rights is an outgrowth of the church,” Lunn said.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality is apparently not taking on that argument.
“Well I think it’s an issue of couples going down to City Hall and getting a marriage license, and I think that’s something that all committed and loving couples should be able to do,” Shakir said.
While Bond does not use the words “civil rights” in his ad, supporters of traditional marriage say the message is implied.
“I think one of the things we’re up against is there are so many people outside the church who have very strong opinions about the idea of gender, and unfortunately some of them are influencing some of our church members,” said Dr. Cleveland Alexander, St. Paul Baptist Church.
Both sides in this issue intend to exert strong influence in the General Assembly next year.
Governor Martin O’Malley is sponsoring the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.