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25 November 2008

Comments

Nathan James

The gay-rights movement and the civil-rights movement of the Sixties are not only connected, they are inextricably linked. When Dr. Martin Luther king sought guidance at the beginning of the civil-rights years, he turned to Bayard Rustin, a strategist who was known to Dr. King to be a gay black man. When the civil-rights movement needed to find its literary voice, there was James Baldwin indicting white America for its ignorance, and Langston Hughes crying for the restoration of black people's dreams. Paul Robeson put into poetry the anguish of the generations. Without them and countless other gay and lesbian people of color, we can say immediately that the civil-rights movement would have been greatly diminished, or delayed by decades. The contributions of the gays and lesbians of that era made the election of Barack Obama as President possible.

Now we live in a time when the marriage and adoption rights of gays (to name just a couple) are denied them. As Rod astutely points out, if certain other rights we enjoy today were on the ballot in the Sixties, they would also lose. My parents, like Barack Obama's, would be in violation of the miscegenation laws in 17 states, had they tried to marry in the time when I was born. It ultimately took the Supreme Court to rectify thois, in 1967.

I daresay that's where gay marriage will eventually end up, before that august body. I hope, in the interim, that people across America, gay and straight, will wake up and rediscover that "injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere". I also pray we are reminded that our history puts us much closer to onwe another than many wil ever admit.

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