Political Animal


May 20, 2012 11:22 AM NAACP Comes Out For Gay Marriage

By Matthew Zeitlin

The NAACP board passed a resolution endorsing same sex marriage as a natural extension of their commitment to equal rights and non-discrimination on Saturday. What’s interesting about this announcement is not so much that a liberal anti-discrimination group supports same sex marriage — in fact, it would be weird if such a group opposed same sex marriage — but how much the NAACP’s announcement is clearly tied to Obama’s publicly changing his mind on the issue. As the Politico article I linked to points out, Julian Bond, the former NAACP chairman, is part of a group of black political and civil rights leaders who have signed on to explicitly support Obama’s position on the issue.

This tonal shift by the NAACP is part of what looks like to be one of the major shifts in how the same sex marriage issue is understood. Although a lot has been made of how quickly a significant portion of the population has changed their opinion on same-sex marriage, what Obama’s public support will likely do is make same-sex marriage an issue that is unambiguously part of the advocacy platform of most organizations in the liberal/Democratic universe (the NAACP being a prime example) and something that liberal politicans will not be afraid to enthusiastically support lest they oppose a sitting president.

The flipside of the NAACP deciding to more explicitly back gay marriage is the situation of moderate Democrats from more Republican states like Tim Kaine and Claire McCaskill who still hold what used to be the president’s position on the issue and may now end up opposing a position that will likely end up in the Democratic party platform. The president’s announcement made a tricky situation — winning elections in Virginia and Missouri — a little bit trickier.


  • c u n d gulag on May 20, 2012 12:29 PM:

    Yes, the Presidents change of position will make it tougher for him in swing states, and also for those Democrats running down-ticket in swing and red states.

    And many black churches have the same outlook on homosexuality as older white people do. So this change by the President and the NAACP may not sit well with church members.

    They need to remember what Martin Luther King Jr. said:
    “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

    The arc began to bend towards them 50 years ago.
    And now, it's the gay peoples turn.

    And for those who don’t like it – they can go and GET BENT!

  • internet tough guy on May 20, 2012 12:36 PM:

    Does this mean we can't blame black people for Prop 8 anymore?

  • K in VA on May 20, 2012 12:51 PM:

    The NAACP used the correct phrase: "marriage equality." The phrases "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage" imply a category of marriages that are somehow, well, not normal, not mainstream, not traditional, not equal.

    Dr. King, when asked once what he thought about interracial marriage, responded that races don't marry, people do. Marriage equality, in that light, is about equal marriages of equal people, sexual orientation, religion, race, or any other attribute be damned.

  • N.Wells on May 20, 2012 2:52 PM:

    I see the positives outweighing the negatives: I think having the NAACP back marriage equality will cause a lot of conservative African-Americans to rethink their objections to marriage equality, which will bring them back into being enthusiastic supporters of Obama & the Democratic platform. Plus, it's the right thing to do.

  • LaFollette Progressive on May 21, 2012 1:27 PM:

    Don't underestimate how important this could be here in Maryland, where we're going to have a very, very tight vote this fall on a ballot initiative to overturn gay marriage.

    The President and the NAACP have an awful lot of influence with socially conservative black Democrats in Prince George's County.