WHY I SUPPORT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE by Charles L. Freeman

Based on my background – a 57 year-old African-American male, born in the South, raised in San Diego, CA by a career Navy man and a mother who worked for the city and who was the daughter of a CME (Christian Methodist Episcopal) minister, who was raised in the Baptist Church and is the nephew of a CME bishop – I should, by all rights, be as against the idea of same-sex marriage as George Wallace was against admitting Negroes to the University of Alabama. But I’m not and here’s why.

My maternal grandfather, the late Reverend D.S. Cunningham, was not only a great minister and preacher, he was a man of integrity and dignity who believed that discrimination against anyone, for any reason, was discrimination against us all. He was president of the Memphis, Tennessee NAACP chapter for two years during the height of the Civil Rights Era and he marched with Dr. King and others across the South and at the “March on Washington.” He was part of the group that brought Dr. King to Memphis for what turned out to be his final fight and most importantly to me, he was my first hero.

Now, I won’t be so presumptuous as to say that I know for certain that my grandfather would support same-sex marriage today because frankly, it was something that we never discussed. But what I do know is that the lessons he taught me by his words and actions, the way he treated EVERYONE with dignity and respect and lived his life by the “Golden Rule”, have led me to believe that it is long past time to end this form of discrimination in our nation.

Civil Rights are not the exclusive property of African-Americans. They belong to us all, regardless of race, creed, color, age, sexual orientation or whatever other label one can think of. And no matter what the Supreme Court decides, it’s just a matter of time when two consenting adults, irrespective of their sex, will be able to express their love and devotion to each other in a public and legal manner. And that is the America that I want to live in.

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