Bravo. The board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has voted to endorse equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. The resolution approved today by the nation's oldest civil rights organization affirms that "marriage equality [is] consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
This marks the first time the national board has fully endorsed marriage equality—and comes ten days after President Barack Obama's historic announcement supporting that position.
The resolution was presented at the civil rights organization's annual retreat in Miami. It was approved by an almost unanimous vote—only 2 members of the 64-member board opposed. The resolution states:
"The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the ‘political, education, social and economic equality’ of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment."
"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people," said NAACP Board Chair Roslyn Brock in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."
"The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people," added President and CEO Benjamin Jealous. "The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed."
But this is not the first time the board has spoken out for marriage rights: In February 2009, the national board called for the overturn of California's Proposition 8 but stopped short of endorsing equal marriage.
In February 2010, the NAACP elected 44-year-old Roslyn Brock as its new chairwoman to replace the legendary Julian Bond, a civil rights icon and one of first Blacks elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. 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. In August 2011, the organization held its first town hall on LGBT issues.
Bond lead the NAACP until 2010 and has been especially vocal on LGBT issues. As a result of Bond's leadership, the NAACP now has an LGBT Equality Task Force. Bond also spoke at the 2009 National Equality March and has pushed for marriage equality legislation in Maryland and New Jersey.
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