Julian Bond and NAACP National under fire from local chapters over gay marriage

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Former NAACP Board Chairman Julian BondThe news last week that the NAACP National Board of Directors had voted to endorse gay marriage has been met by chapters all over the nation with a strong rebuke. Sources in the NAACP report intense and strong reaction from local and state leaders who felt they were caught off guard by the surprise endorsement during the quarterly meeting.

“There was zero consultation with the local members and many of them are just upset,” a member of the board said who spoke on the condition of confidentiality. “The person taking most of the blame is former chairman Julian Bond. He has pushed this for years and with the wind of the president at his back muscled it through,” the member went on to say.

Julian Bond served as the leader of the board from 1998 until he stepped aside in 2008. Bond made headlines when he refused to attend the funeral of the Corretta Scott King after her children decided to have the services at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Bishop Eddie Long (who has since been accused of sexual misconduct with young male members) was a very outspoken opponent of gay marriage.

Now that the National Board has voted to support same-sex marriage there is little members can do to register their dissent. Some discussion has taken place to introduce a resolution supporting “traditional” marriage at the organization’s national convention this summer, but seeing how much media such an effort would generate, that is not likely. It has however gotten a few leaders of local chapters to consider if it was time to revise the powers of the national board.

The NAACP which celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2009 has been battling for relevancy in modern years. It is governed by a 64 member board who are elected in various methods. One of the largest concerns by opponents of the resolution is how the decision was reached. Local and even many state leaders they they weren’t even informed the issue would be up for discussion. A former member of the board said that after serving on the body for almost a decade, he doubts that all of the board members were at the meeting and has heard that less than half who did attend, knew the issue would be discussed. “We regularly would have a bare majority of members present at these meetings. It is just not good government for a small group of people to make such a wide change in philosophy for a group this large without a dialogue,” the former member said. “They did it for the media, they did it for the headlines, they did it to be in the in crowd,” the former board member continued.

Here in Maryland which will have this issue in the spotlight this November, leaders from both Baltimore City and Prince George’s County have been relatively silent on the issue. Will the NAACP or President Barack Obama be able to deliver the black vote? We will see in November.

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Prince George’s Churches, ground zero in gay marriage battle

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The black church in Prince George’s County stands to wield wide influence in the outcome of the gay marriage referendum when it is decided by voters this fall, but the first step is getting to the ballot. Under Maryland law the sponsors of the effort to place this issue on the ballot have until June to get their signatures in and verified. Feeling the pressure churches all over the county are holding voter registration and petition drives. The latest is Fort Washington Baptist Church.

Fort Washington Baptist Church will host a voter registration and petition drive for the Referendum on Marriage. We hope that you can help us get the word out to local residents.

Voter Registration and Petition Drive for the Referendum on Marriage
Saturday, June 16, 9a.m.-1 p.m.
Fort Washington Baptist Church
11516 Fort Washington Road
Fort Washington, MD 20744
(301) 292-1384
http://www.fortwashingtonbaptist.org/

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Will black voters in Prince George’s abandon Obama over gay marriage?

Last week President Barack Obama made history when he became the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage. All day on Sunday the talking heads debated if that will hurt the first black president amongst his most loyal voting bloc, African-Americans. You tell us. Take our poll below and add your comments to the debate in the comment box below.

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GUEST OP-ED From Rev. Joseph Kitchen, Advancing marriage equality in Maryland will take lots of personal evolution

Last week the Maryland House of Delegates voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill and sent it to the State Senate for final passage. On Sunday we wrote an editorial calling for the legislature to move quickly to send the measure to voters this November and bypass the requirement for petitioners to force it on the ballot. After his appearance on WBAL to discuss the legislation, we invited Rev. Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr., Executive Vice-President of the Young Democrats of Maryland, to submit a guest Op-ed.

Advancing marriage equality in Maryland will take lots of personal evolution

By: Rev. Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr. – Executive Vice President, Young Democrats of Maryland (Twitter:@josephlkitchen)

Rev. Joseph Lynn Kitchen, Executive Vice - President of the Young Democrats of Maryland

I know I am dealing in dangerous space by accepting the offer to write a guest op-ed here on this blog. For months now many people have accused me of being the author and publisher of this site, but on this issue I am honored to accept the invite.

In 2008 I voted for Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in my native state of California. In 2012, should it come before voters, I will vote against repealing the marriage equality legislation that just passed the House of Delegates. What led to my evolution on this issue? My own personal experience with my family.

As a kid my brother who is just eleven months younger than I am became suicidal. For months he would go through long bouts of depression that resulted in attempts on his life with cutting and one night trying to hang himself in a closet. My family believed it was a phase he was going through and something to be kept internal, on the inside…family business. We were wrong. He was gay and the traditions of shame and dishonor had taken their toll on him. It wasn’t until we realized that he was a member of our family and we loved him unconditionally that he got better and the strength of our family improved.

In 2008 I forgot that experience. I became distracted by the disagreements I had with the marriage equality advocates to overshadow my better judgment. As a voter I resented their failure to engage me on the issue. As an African-American I rejected their charges of bigotry. As a Christian I refused to accept their characterizing of my faith as hate. Once we get beyond all those names and look at this issue for what it is, love and strong relationships, everything else just seems so small.

Last week in Maryland marriage equality advocates made that argument in Annapolis and they won. Gay marriage is not about an attack on religion or even our personal religion; it is about love, strong families and strong communities. When advocates make that argument they win every time.

As a young man who grew up in a very conservative, black, Baptist church, my personal feeling on the issue has not changed. My faith teaches that homosexuality is a sin. That is why I support this legislation and the built in religious protections it provides for churches like mine. To that end my faith is my personal walk with God not my right to by force put on the people of the Maryland. Over the next few months, should this issue make it to the ballot, it will be conversations like this, in communities like mine in Prince George’s County that must happen if we truly want to move our people forward.

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FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD–Gay Marriage, a matter to be settled at the ballot box

When the gays attack, it might just be over for you in Democratic politics, or maybe not. It might be worth noticing that the platform of the Democratic National Convention does not call for gay marriage. In fact the 2008 platform doesn’t mention gay or lesbian couples at all. That might be in stark contrast to some liberals who profess that gay marriage is a key party principal.

This week the Maryland House of Delegates voted to advance gay marriage in a bill that after a brief stop in the Senate, and on the Governor’s desk, is destined for a public vote, possibly as soon as this November. With knowledge of these facts a few delegates, Aisha Braveboy and Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s, Sam Arora of Montgomery County and others, pushed to end the debate, pass the bill, but send it directly to a public ballot. NO, was the answer they got from the uncompromising liberal wing of the party that on far too much legislation, dominates Annapolis. That maybe the mistake they can’t overcome in just a few weeks.

“I just cannot understand why, if you know a matter is going to the ballot, we don’t just send it ourselves,” said a senior Democrat in the House of Delegates who voted no on final passage. “We knew that if we passed a slots package, it would likely go to the ballot, but we know that this bill will be sent to the voters and what we could do is stop the guessing game and do it ourselves.” That idea was outright rejected by house leaders and gay marriage supporters saying that just like civil rights of blacks, these rights should not be put up for a public vote. Problem is they will, we know they will, and adding that amendment to this bill would have likely boosted the number of Yea votes among representatives from the communities that will determine if the historic legislation stands the test of time, or is just a temporary celebration doomed for defeat.

Gay Marriage advocates play dangerous game of blacklisting

Delegate Sam Arora

Last year after the gay marriage legislation unsuspectingly went down on the floor of the House of Delegates, leaders in the movement reacted in the way that everyone expected. Equality Maryland, the leading gay rights group in the state at the time, was overruled on strategy by the national outside group the Human Rights Campaign. The decision to pull the bill from the floor before it went down in defeat caused so much drama at Equality Maryland that half of the Board of Directors resigned, the Executive Director was fired, and before the end of the year the entire organization was being reorganized. Leaders of the movement in the house such as Delegate Heather Mizeur and First Lady Katie O’Malley lashed out at black church leaders and delegates from Prince George’s County, and this year has been no different.

Once the vote count was clear supporters of gay marriage didn’t turn their attention to how they would defend the legislation from a public that appears split on the issue, they instead focused like a laser on defeating Delegate Sam Arora of Montgomery County as punishment for his nay vote. Arora, who is not up for reelection until 2014, two full years after the measure might meet defeat this November, is the only delegate from the county to vote against gay marriage. Arora’s sudden opposition to gay marriage does have to come as a shock to the more liberal (not necessarily progressive) Montgomery County but the backlash has many throughout the state thinking it only plays into the storyline about the out-of-control liberals who are much less interested in building consensus around social change than they are at forcing it on a population not ready or willing to accept it.

Clearly gay marriage is coming to America, the timing on when it and how it comes is the debate the people are having today. This generation, much unlike the generation of the civil rights movement, has many very democratic tools to stall this social change and like it or not, government officials should stop trying to prevent the usage of those tools. This sense of direct democracy is promoted by the Democratic Party on when they desire, like the recall of GOP governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, but rejected on issues they hold close. It is time we all stop trying to have our cake and eat it too. This is a time for advocates on both sides, for gay marriage and against it, to reach out to voters throughout Maryland and make their case. Legislators cannot continue to ask for public input and involvement but reject it on the issues where the public might disagree with them. This is a matter for the ballot box.

That is our opinion, let us know what you think! Take our poll, add your comment below, facebook or tweet us.

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Prince George’s black Delegates split on same-sex marriage

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Delegate Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George's)

Last year black members of the Prince George’s County delegation took most of the blame for bringing down the same-sex marriage bill. This year, with a flip by two of those  delegates, Tiffany Alston and Marvin Holmes, they split nearly evenly.

The 23 member delegation has 14 African-American members. Six of those members voted for the legislation.

Pena-Melynk, Gaines, Marvin Holmes, Tiffany Alston, Jolene Ivey, and Michael Summers. Delegate Veronica Turner was absent for the vote but had pledged her support before falling ill.

The other seven voted against the legislation.

Carolyn Howard, Michael Vaughn, Aisha Braveboy, Dereck Davis, Melony Griffith, Jay Walker, and James Proctor.

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BREAKING NEWS- MD House of Delegates pass same-sex marriage bill

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The Maryland House of Delegates has just voted to approve the same-sex marriage bill supported by Governor Martin O’Malley. The bill will now move to the State Senate where it passed last year and is expected to pass again this year before being signed into law. Both sides of the debate will now prepare for an expected referendum on the bill as soon as this November where opposition from the Catholic church and mega-black churches in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City will make for a close public vote.

African-Americans make up about 20% of the Maryland population and oppose same-sex marriage depending on what poll you read by as much as 60%.

The bill passed the House of Delegates 71-67, barely getting the necessary 71 votes needed for passage.

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BREAKING NEWS, Unconfirmed Reports of Del. Alston Flip on Marriage Vote

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Delegate Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George's)

Unconfirmed reports from the Office of House Speaker Michael Busch, backed up by key supporters of the same-sex marriage bill being debated on the floor, indicate Prince George’s County Delegate Tiffany Alston will vote to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Alston made headlines last year after co-sponsoring the legislation only to switch her vote when she came under intense pressure from many of the large churches in her district.

Reaction to news their delegate may vote to allow same-sex marriage in Maryland has been mixed. One resident blasted Alston as being nothing more than “typical and a liar” after she was led to believe during a town hall meeting the 24th district team held earlier this year Alston would vote no. A minister at the mega-church First Baptist of Highland Park called Alston’s flip a serious mistake and reminded a group of other residents just last week that Alston had voted in committee against the bill. “We just can’t believe anything she says,” he went on to say.

With Alston’s vote in the bag, supporters are expected to have reached the number they need to pass the bill out of the House of Delegates, and send it to the Senate where it is expected to pass. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has pledged to sign the bill but supporters and oppentents expect it to be petitioned to the ballot in November.

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24th district delegates hold town hall w/o their senator

District 24 Delegates present town hall (Tiffany Alston, Carolyn JB Howard, and Michael Vaughn)

When the Maryland General Assembly reconvenes next January a number of hot button issues are going to be on the table. In Prince George’s County this year a few delegations plan to return after getting ideas from their residents. That will begin with the delegates from the 24th legislative district.

Delegates Tiffany Alston, Carolyn JB Howard, and Michael Vaughn are hosting a town hall meeting on just a few of the hot button issues today at Charles Flowers High School from 6:30PM until 8:30PM. Issues expected to be discussed include a proposal to raise the gas tax, redistricting, and same-sex marriage.

Same sex marriage dominated the legislative session last year and was pulled from the floor after Delegate Alston changed her mind from supporting the legislation to opposing it under pressure from community leaders. Governor Martin O’Malley and other top democrats in the state have made passing the legislation a key priority this year while also understanding it will likely be put up for a vote in next year’s presidential election.

Side note: Notice that State Senator Benson who also represents the 24th district is not on the list of presenters or speakers.

So you want to go? The Town Hall will be held Thursday, November 10th starting at 6:30PM at Charles Herbert Flowers High School at 10001 Ardwick-Adrmore Road in Springdale, MD.

Want more information? Visit http://mddistrict24.org.

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Peters updates residents on weekly activities but ignores gay marriage vote

Senator J.J. Peters is known in his district for his weekly legislative updates. They normally contain information regarding legislation he is pursuing as well as other important bills being debated or voted on that week. That wasn’t the case this week.

In the legislative update sent by Senator Douglas J.J. Peters who happens to also be the chair of the Prince George’s County Senate Delegation talks about his efforts on home foreclosure but didn’t mention at all his vote against the gay marriage bill in the senate or give any explanation on why he voted that way.

Peters joined senators Benson, Currie, Muse and Miller in voting against the bill. It was supported by Rosapepe, Ramirez and Pinsky.

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