Ward Connerly, the controversial black Republican and affirmative action foe, is now promoting gay rights.
The California businessman led ballot initiatives which ended race- and gender-based affirmative action in California and Michigan, and, is now in Arizona championing a similar proposal. Speaking to the Arizona Republic, the black conservative comes across as a libertarian when he says there is no inherent contradiction between opposing affirmative action and supporting gay rights and domestic partnerships.
The government shouldn't be making distinctions about people on the basis of what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms. And those within my party that try to inject the government into that, they're not the conservative, I'm the conservative. I'm saying, keep government small, keep government out of people's personal lives. If you're going to give benefits to people who happen to be straight, give the same benefits to people who are gay. That to me was a very easy call.
I took a lot of heat from "strong conservatives" who said that I was eroding the concept of marriage. I'm not "eroding the concept of marriage." If marriage is that fragile, that giving people who are gay equal benefit (would cause harm), then we're in big trouble. I believe in the institution of marriage, but I also believe in freedom. I believe in treating people equally.
The black conservative quotes the same landmark Supreme Court decision cited by many marriage equality activists. "In 1962, when my wife and I got married, in some parts of the country, we would have been breaking the law. It wasn't until 1967, when the Supreme Court in the Loving (vs. Virginia) case said that that's unconstitutional. So, I feel very strongly that the government shouldn't be treating people differently just because they are gay."
Connerly says our nation is not "at that ideal place where there is absolute equality" but the nomination of Barack Obama demonstrates affirmative action is no longer needed. Connerly formerly supported Obama but withdrew support after the Illinois Democrat opposed the Michigan anti-affirmative action ballot initiative. "I really thought that Senator Obama in his heart of hearts would like to get beyond race. He's a multiracial guy," Connerly, who himself is multi-racial, says in an interview with ABC News. "Multiracial people understand race in a far more nuanced way than those who are quote 'mono-racial.'"