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Activists Reject GOP Anti-gay Advances to African Americans

By Joel Wendland  Posted by Joel Wendland (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
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A highly organized, well-funded campaign led by right-wing evangelical Christian groups, including the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council, in conjunction with the Republican Party machine is targeting African Americans. The goal is to divide Black voters by emphasizing and manipulating views on gays and lesbians, according to a spokesperson for the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (NGLTF).

Republican loyalists and officials have sought to spread an anti-gay message in African American churches in order to convince Black voters to "come back home" to the Republican Party.

The NGLTF Policy Institute this week released a report, "How the Right Deploys Homophobia to Win Support from African Americans," that exposes the dishonesty behind and spotlights the false promises inherent in these attempts to lure Black voters based on "moral values."

As Nicholas Ray, the report's author stated in a press conference announcing the publication of the report that "moral values," such as same-sex marriage, simply don't register among the highest priorities of African Americans. In fact, Ray noted that polls show that fewer than 1 percent of African Americans regard a "moral crisis" as defined by GOP pundits as a major issue.

Issues like the economy, racism, health care, the war, and education are the issues most African Americans rate as the most important. Ray pointed out that Republican Senators and members of the House have poor voting records when it comes to issues like civil rights and social issues that African Americans have said are important to them.

For example, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), a, outspoken anti-gay Republican in the Senate, has voted 17 times against raising the minimum wage, but has approved raising his own pay every year he has been in office, complaining that his $162,100 salary forces him and his family to live "paycheck to paycheck."

Outgoing Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), a vocal opponent of equality for LGBT people, opposes reauthorization of portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights of 1965, and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, a leading figure in the organized effort to bring an anti-gay message into Black churches, while serving as a campaign official for a Republican senator, personally authorized the purchase of avowed racist David Duke's mailing list to promote and fund raise for that campaign.

Traditional Values Coalition head Louis Sheldon, the NGLTF report points out, is so out of touch with African American issues that he told right-wing TV personality Tucker Carlson this past January that the biggest problem in the Black community is homosexuality. He also described African American advocates of reparations as "black shakedown artists."

Altogether the report documents the views of the 159 most conservative members of Congress as reflected in their voting records. None have a positive record when it comes to voting for issues related to civil rights, job and economic issues, education and war.

In fact, the higher they were rated by right-wing organizations such as the American Conservative Union, the report shows, the more likely they are to vote against the issues that African Americans say are their top priorities.

They simply do not share the values of African Americans, Ray argued.

Ray described the Republican effort to divide African American voters on the issue of same-sex marriage as a "fraud perpetrated on the African American people."

Rev. Bishop Yvette Flunder of Refuge Ministries, a multi-denominational ministry of mainly African American church leaders, rejected the Republican bid to divide African Americans. She appealed to Black church leaders who may have been involved with Republican or right-wing religious organizations intent on spreading an anti-gay message in the African American community to not sell out for "thirty pieces of silver."

Flunder remarked, "I will not allow this racist power grab to separate me from my community."

On the hypocrisy of right-wing fundamentalist religious leaders like Perkins, James Dobson, and Louis Sheldon, Flunder wondered said, they "have no record of a concern for our struggle until it could be used for their purposes."

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--Joel Wendland is editor of Political Affairs.
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