Part of the reason I wanted to avoid writing about this issue is because I don't feel as though I have anything new to offer to the same old argument. Still, as we celebrate the election of our nation's first black president, I can't help but to wonder why we're not more upset about the lack of progress that America has made elsewhere. Every African-American celebrating the significance of a black man assuming presidential office should recognize that the same social and political significance that gives us pride in relation to the election of Barack Obama, should shame us in relation to the passing of Proposition 8.
Blacks can be conservative. The implications of the treatment of homosexuals in America go far beyond political lines. Blacks can be religious. Gay marriage isn't a religious issue. However, blacks can't afford to be discriminatory.
Refusing gays the right to marry in the United States undermines their citizenship. While you certainly can't, and shouldn't try to, force any religious group to recognize same-sex marriages, the constitution is a document that governs all American citizens, regardless of religious affiliation. Marriage is not just a social institution, but also a means of obtaining several rights and benefits that should be afforded to all Americans without prejudice. If gays are expected to pay taxes and be civically responsible in other ways, then the right to marry is certainly an expectation for which they should hold our nation accountable. In the United States, equality is not something one should have to earn; it's the birthright of America.
Why can't African-Americans see that the same oppressive agenda that keeps gays from marrying today, kept blacks relegated to second-class citizens just a few decades ago? More than that, the same hate that we allow to prosper now always stands a chance at refocusing itself later. Once you've overcome the tyranny of oppression, you don't ignore it as it attacks someone else. Instead, you use the progress you've earned to assist in another group's battle, until equality is a reality.
We have to recognize that diversity goes far beyond skin color, and that none of us are safe until all of us are safe.
PS. Watch the clip above in its entirety. Janet and Ashanti are SO rocking the same wig.