Bigotry is a poison that can be disguised in many ways. Martin Luther King knew bigotry well, and he fought it in every form it took. This is why he is the public figure I have most admired, besides Ghandi, in my lifetime. King's embrace of Bayard Rustin throughout Rustin's persecution as a gay man, was the mark of a leader who would not accept bigotry in any form no matter the price.
Here is a 2004 column by Earl Ofari Hutchinson which I found informative, and perhaps you will was well.
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The sight of the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., standing at the gravesite of her father with thousands of demonstrators to denounce gay marriage was painful and insulting.
The Rev. Bernice King and the march organizers deliberately chose King's gravesite to imply that King might well have stood with her and them in their protest. Given her father's relentless, and uncompromising battle against discrimination during his life, it defies belief that he would back an anti-gay campaign.
But it's not the first time that a King family member has sullied King's name and legacy to torpedo gay rights. In 1998, King's niece, Alveda King, barnstormed the country speaking at rallies against gay rights legislation. In case anyone missed the King family connection, her group was named, "King for America."
Gay rights groups everywhere countered King's repent-and-save-yourself message to gays by quoting a public statement Coretta Scott King issued in 1996 in which she noted that King would be a champion of gay rights if he were alive.
In this case, King's daughter was careful not to mention gay marriage in her talk. Her mentor and March organizer, Bishop Eddie Long, cautiously downplayed the issue. But Bernice King is an outspoken evangelical, and in the last couple of years she and other black evangelicals have marched, protested, wrote letters and petitions denouncing gay marriage. Polls show that their hostility to gay marriage is much stronger than that of white evangelicals. Long prominently touts Bush's federal amendment banning gay marriage on his church website.
In King's day, though, gay rights was invisible on America's public policy radarscope. Homosexuality, among blacks, and whites, was hushed up. There's not a word in any of his speeches or writings about homosexuality or whether he believed the civil rights struggle was inclusive of gays.
There's a way, however, to gauge what King's feelings were on the issue, and what he might say and do about it today. That gauge is the long time personal and political relationship King had with Bayard Rustin.
Best known as the driving force behind the historic 1963 March on Washington, Rustin was a close King associate, ally, supporter, and a known homosexual.
In 1953, Rustin was convicted of morals charges. In the frozen mood of that day and time that was the parlance for homosexual acts. It carried a quick, and sometimes, stiff jail term. King knew this, the Kennedys, top FBI officials, black elected officials, civil rights leaders and the tight circle of black ministers around King, knew it as well.
That didn't deter King from embracing Rustin. At the high point of the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott that launched King into the national spotlight and over the vehement opposition of black ministers who called homosexuals and Rustin unsavory and evil, King invited Rustin to come to Montgomery as an advisor.
A year later, King turned to Rustin and asked him to draft the resolutions and the organizational charter of his fledging Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He demanded that the SCLC board, mostly composed of black ministers, hire Rustin as its coordinator and publicist. King didn't win that one. The board flatly turned him down, and though it was unstated, Rustin's homosexuality was a major reason.
The issue continued to dog King and his relationship with Rustin. Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell publicly threatened to accuse King of having a homosexual affair with Rustin if he didn't call off planned demonstrations at the 1960 Democratic Convention. King didn't buckle to Powell's blackmail threat and went ahead with the demonstrations anyway.
During the next few years, the assault on Rustin's homosexuality, and the pressure on King to dump him, escalated. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, busy with his blatantly illegal spy campaign against King, publicly released wiretaps of scurrilous remarks King associates made about Rustin's homosexuality.
On the eve of the March on Washington in 1963, South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond denounced Rustin on the Senate floor as a sexual pervert, and inserted a copy of his 1953 arrest booking slip in the Congressional Record. The Kennedys also flatly demanded that King get rid of him. King did not publicly break with Rustin. And when he did eventually distance himself politically from Rustin, he gave no public hint that his homosexuality was an issue.
King risked much to work with and defend Rustin during the tumultuous battles of the civil rights era. He valued him as an ally and a major player in the struggle. He also believed that deeply embodied in the civil rights fight was a person's right to be whom and what he was.
While King may have praised his daughter for having the courage and conviction to march for her beliefs, bigotry is still bigotry, whether it's racial or sexual preference. He would not have marched by her side.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author, political analyst and columnist for Alternet and Blacknews.com. He is the publisher of The Hutchinson Report Newsletter, an online public issues newsletter.
This article reprinted with permission from Alternet.
So I was pretty shocked when I found out that Prop. 8 had passed in California. I truly expected it to go down in flames, especially given the surge in Democratic turnout I expected due to Obama's campaign.
I was even more surprised, at first, to find that African American voters supported it by such large margins (I've read 70%). But what is most surprising is that people have apparently used that figure to 1. Trash the entire racial group, and 2. trash people legitimately criticizing those black voters that supported the proposition.
Yesterday the voters of California have chosen bigotry and hate over love and peace. Yesterday the voters of California did not choose the path of MLK by elected Barack Obama but the path of Jesse Helms and Storm Thurmond. Yesterday proved to be not the end of MLK's dream of equality but only the beginning. As a gay teenager not yet out except to two of my best friends I am extremely disheartened and depressed over what happened in not only California but in Arizona and Florida too.
Yesterday proved to me that as we a society choose to accept one people we then decide to hate another. The age of race discrimination may be over but MLK's torch of equality has been passed to the fight for Gay and lesbian rights. I cried at 3 exact moments yesterday. First, when Barack Obama was projected the 44th President of the United States. Second, when Obama was giving his Presidential acceptance speech. And lastly when I realized that Proposition 8 would pass in California. Many people say that the fight for civil rights and the fight for gay rights are not a like, but I say say they are the same fight with a different face.
Why am I, an American who happens to be gay, a lesser citizen or patriot than any one else. Why should I be treated as a second class citizen. Why should I fear to be outed and exiled. As much as I love President Obama and Senator Clinton I strongly disagree with them when they tell the story of parents holding up their children and telling them that they can be whatever they what to be. That's not true. I can't be whatever I want to be. I can't be President, Or Senator, or even get married. I can't show love, or hold the hand of a loved one without fearing what would happen to me.
I'm not going to say that gay discrimination is exactly a like from racial discrimination because it is not. What happened to the Africans Americans in this county can not equal to anything else, but they share an inner struggle. A struggle to be accepted. A struggle for equality. I don't expect everyone in American to like gays and lesbians, but to just tolerate us and accept us. You don't have to like us but at least admit that we deserve the basic rights of human beings.
Hopefully I am wrong and that one day I as a gay 16 year old can achieve my basic human rights. Maybe I won't see that day but I can promise you this that I learned something from President Obama. I learned that even if I don't achieve my rights, that if I fight hard and speak my mind then maybe my children (If I'm allowed to adopt) will be able to see a time where there is no discrimination. No matter who you are.
I would like to end this diary with a quote from Senator Hillary Clinton. "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all." In this case gay rights are human rights.
We conclude that, in light of the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody, the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm.