Reverend Eric P. Lee on Homophobia in Black ‘N White
Shortly after the legalization of Prop 8, which banned gay marriage in California, the major media began to stoke the flames of a “Black/Gay Divide.” Their claim was that black voters tipped the balance in favor of the ban. Many were horrified, how could Black people – themselves subject to the denial of fundamental rights, including through the use of religious scripture, through centuries of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, KKK terror and ongoing oppression and discrimination – take part in denying the fundamental rights of another persecuted group?
In reality, a more even-handed analysis of the voter patterns reveal that black people were NOT the deciding factor in passing this ban. The controversy was largely manufactured.
However, a majority of black voters did cast their ballots against gay marriage. Many black preachers played a big role in promoting this position. A few, however, spoke publicly against it.
Reverend Eric P. Lee is the President of the California Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a black minister living for years in Los Angeles. He used his public voice to oppose homophobia and the denial of the right to marry to gay people. He heatedly debated other black clergy in an effort to move more to oppose this ban. He even offered to publicly debate Rick Warren over his support for the ban – Warren, however, declined.
This week on ETFF, Reverend Lee joins Sunsara Taylor to discuss his new book, “Proposition 8: The California Divide,” and to bring to light why there is a common interest among black people and gay people, as well as women and others, in standing up against religious bigotry and intolerance.