For the second year in a row, many observances of Martin Luther King Day will include tributes to Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, who died almost a year ago on January 31. Until she was impaired by stroke, Coretta Scott King frequently spoke out in favor of LGBT civil rights. This morning there is actually a very nice tribute to Coretta Scott King's gay rights activism on Queerty.
“Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others", she would tell black civil rights leaders angered by gays and lesbians comparing their struggle to their own. She would quote her husband and say, “I have worked too long and hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible."
She also fought off bigots who would co-opt MLK's message and try to make it their own. In 2002, anti-gay advocates sought to repeal Miami-Dade County’s equal rights law by sending out fliers saying that King would be outraged at its gay-inclusive nature. Coretta responded through a statement put out by the King Center for Nonviolent Change saying, "I appeal to everybody who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbians and gay people."
When George W. Bush came out on the White House lawn and, in a bid for reelection, told the press he supported a Constitutional ban on gay marriage, Coretta again spoke up and reminded America of King's legacy: "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."
It's remarkable how Dr. King's message of peace, love and fairness for all has been co-opted by the social conservatives and prominent anti-gay voices such as Rick Warren, who is speaking today at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Many old guard black pastors were angered by Mrs. King's words—including her younger daughter, the rabidly anti-gay Rev. Bernice King—but she called her critics "misinformed" and said that her late husband's message was one of equality and inclusion. Mrs. King and civil rights leader Julian Bond often reminded critics the 1963 March on Washington was organized by Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man. Coretta Scott King's longtime personal assistant was also an openly gay man.
What Would MLK Said About Gay Rights? [Queerty]