December 23, 2003
Letter to George Curry
Because this horse I’ve been beating isn’t quite dead yet, here’s the letter I wrote to George Curry in response to this column:
Dear Mr. Curry,
As a young black journalist, I have looked up to you. It heartens me to see the heights you’ve achieved in your career, and the accolades you continue to garner.
But, as a black man, it disappoints me greatly to now see you and other black leaders fall victim to the same prejudices that our community battled against so short a time ago. And as a journalist, it pains me to hear you discard truth in favor of sloganeering and propaganda.
First, I celebrate your right to your opinion. I do not at all take issue with your conviction that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But I become fearful when you conflate Biblical matters with legal ones. The Bible may be “clear on what unions the Creator has blessed or approved,” but the Constitution is also clear: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose, Mr. Curry. You mention the old chestnut “that God created a union between Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” You forget that just over 30 short years ago, a trial court denied an interracial couple’s right to marry because “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents… And the fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
Similarly, you mention an aversion to your church sanctioning same-sex marriage without recognizing that the legal rights and responsibilities gay couples seek have nothing to do with church ceremonies. The government can no more force churches to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies than the church should be able to influence the government on this matter.
It irks you, you say, that so many gays and lesbians try to equate their struggle with the Civil Rights Movement, because blacks have suffered more in America than gays have. So non-black disenfranchised groups do not deserve equal rights because they haven’t suffered enough? I thought Dr. King was marching for a grand vision of equal rights for all, not just a redress of wrongs for black people alone.
Furthermore, I’m not aware of many gays who do compare the black plight in America to the problems facing gays in America today, which leads me to believe this is a straw man. I do, however, know many gays, black and white, who equate the struggle for and against same-sex marriage with the controversy over interracial marriage. The parallels between these two issues are innumerable, and I think if you reviewed them, you would not so easily dismiss them as “limited individual cases.” Perhaps, as you say, “no white girl in the United States has ever been killed for whistling at a white woman,” but a white boy has been murdered for whistling at white men. Emmett Till and Matthew Shepard are two points on a continuum of intolerance that may always be with us.
But fortunately, Mr. Curry, the prejudice of your generation dies with you. Every generation of Americans born after the Civil Rights Revolution has recognized the promise of that movement in a way that yours has sadly failed to do. Whatever their personal feelings on same-sex marriage, or homosexuality in general, those among my generation understand that we all deserve equal treatment under the law, especially in our choices of who to love. My children will look back at your ambivalence about denying gays the right to marry the same way I and my peers look back at those who struggled with legalizing interracial marriage.
I still look up to you, sir. But now, I also look beyond you with hope.