The NAACP held its first LGBT Town Hall meeting at its convention in Los Angeles last week. The discussion was moderated by CNN anchor Don Lemon. The panel featured Wanda Sykes, former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, current NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, writer Kenyon Farrow, Spelman College's Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, director Patrik-Ian Polk and actor Darryl Stephens.
One of the more contentious topics: The number of anti-gay churches and ministers in NAACP leadership positions, such as Rev. Keith Ratliff, Iowa's leading black pastor and the anti-gay chair of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter, reports More Down Low TV.
Mr. Jealous responded saying the gay community should take the NAACP seriously because the NAACP was there with the Human Rights Campaign helping to pass the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. The NAACP were champions of fighting Prop 8 in California as well as fighting alongside the LGBT community in Maine, Massachusetts, in Washington D.C. and in Maryland, and in other places. Jealous also said the LGBT community needed to do more ground work in the black community and not come late in the game with an expectation. He also said the black community needed to be treated with the same respect as the other allies of the LGBT community.
"There [are] many prominent ministers who are major homophobes who themselves are gay," said veteran civil rights leader and LGBT ally Julian Bond. "I don't want to say for sure but we have our suspicions. ... I wouldn't go as far to say that Eddie Long is gay. He's openly homophobic, we know that. But I don't know that he's gay. But he is predatory."
In February 2010, the NAACP elected 44-year-old Roslyn Brock as its new chairwoman to replace the legendary Julian Bond. Brock joined 37-year-old NAACP President Benjamin Jealous—who has tried to engage LGBT issues— and both have pledged to make the veteran civil rights organization more relevant. In March 2011, the first openly LGBT president of a local NAACP chapter was elected.
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