One of the nation’s oldest and largest African American advocacy organizations officially endorsed gay marriage in the wake of President Obama’s public endorsement of same-sex unions.
According to NAACP Officer Maxim Thorne, the organization’s Board of Directors voted to endorse gay marriage with a 62-2 vote.
He took to Twitter to announce the news: “The NAACP Board of Directors has just endorsed marriage equality unequivocally. Only two opposed! An historic moment.”
“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” board chair Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement following passage of the resolution on Saturday. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”
Earlier this week the chairman emeritus, Julian Bond, had already pledged his support as part of a coalition of black leaders trying to tamp down speculation that Obama’s support of gay marriage would divide the black community, reports Politico.
The NAACP’s resolution and statement Saturday specifically highlighted that the group supports “civil marriage” for same sex couples, while respecting religious freedom – something the president also mentioned when announcing his stance.
“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in the statement. “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.”
Previously, the Association has deprecated some high-profile issues considering gay marriage — including Proposition 8 in California and the recent passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina.
But this is the first time the NAACP has taken a stance on the issue. Its members stated that this move is very important for President Obama as it could shore up support among his base, particularly African-American voters that have been less likely to support gay marriage.
The results of two separate polls have shown that more people are less likely to vote for Obama than support him after his endorsement of gay marriage.
The majority of people, though, said it wouldn’t have an effect on their votes for or against him, writes The Business Insider.
Julian Bond, a civil rights activist and former chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., explained that Obama’s recent decision to support gay marriage was “a tipping point” for many board members.
He also added the vote debunked the myth that the black community is uncomfortable with same-sex marriage. “This proves that conventional wisdom is not true,” the specialist said.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey praised the NAACP for their support. He said: “We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NAACP working together on the many issues that affect all of our lives.”
“Whether it be fair access to education and jobs, an end to voter suppression and racial profiling, the right to love and be who we are free of discrimination — these issues affect all of us, our families and our country. Today the NAACP did what it does so well — inspires and affirms our common humanity.”
Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, also revealed that he was proud to see the NAACP’s support gay marriage.
“The NAACP has long been the nation’s conscience and champion for an America where all share equally in the promise of liberty and justice for all,” Wolfson said.
“Today the NAACP resoundingly affirmed that the freedom to marry is a civil right and family value that belong to all of us, and that discriminatory barriers to marriage must fall. The toxic tactics of anti-gay groups like NOM to ‘drive a wedge between blacks and gays’ will be washed away in the wave of righteous affirmation.”