Black Group Protests NAACP Stand on Gay Rights
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A black citizens’ group in Indianapolis, site of the NAACP’s upcoming annual meeting, is protesting the organization’s support of gay rights.
The group, Concerned Citizens for Traditional Family Values, plans to picket the meeting and to press NAACP members to overturn a board decision supporting an end to the ban on homosexuals in the military.
″Lord knows our grandmothers don’t want us to stand against the NAACP, but it is necessary to stand up against homosexuality because it is sinful,″ the Rev. Damon Roach, pastor of The First Christian Ministry Baptist Church of Indianapolis, said Wednesday.
NAACP spokesman Don Rojas said convention planners were aware of the protest plans, and were talking with the citizens’ group ″along the lines of clarifying our position on this issue.″
″We respect their right to demonstrate. They’ve been warning us they were planning to do this,″ Rojas said. ″We would not like to see the convention disrupted by protest, but if they decide to do it, there’s nothing we can do to stop it.″
The issue of gay rights has touched off intense debate within the black community. Some blacks feel discrimination against homosexuals is a civil rights issue, while others see no comparison to racial prejudice.
The objections have grown louder since February, when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People adopted a resolution calling for an end to requiring recruits to state their sexual preference as a condition of military service.
Jackie Cissell, an organizer of the Indianapolis protest, said many ministers and church members who have worked with the NAACP in the past were astonished by the resolution.
″A lot of people feel the homosexual movement is trying to gain legitimacy by aligning itself with the civil rights movement. We resent that,″ she said.
NAACP board chairman William Gibson said supporting an end to the gay ban is in line with the organization’s stated mission of equality for everyone.
″We basically feel that no groups, no individuals, should be discriminated against in America,″ Gibson said. ″So basically we really reaffirmed our primary objective.″
The NAACP will convene July 10, with a keynote address by black South African activist Nelson Mandela.