The 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.