Marriage Restriction Amendment is a “Trojan Horse” Says NAACP President

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Gathered at the Hallie Q. Brown Center in St. Paul, Minnesota’s historic black neighborhood, leaders in the African American community recently spoke out against Minnesota’s Marriage Restriction Amendment.

NAACP president Benjamin Jealous was in Minnesota for the second time within two weeks to speak out against Minnesota’s constitutional amendments on the ballots this fall.

“Civil marriage is a civil right. The notion that this state would actually create an amendment to its constitution to deny people a civil right should send a shudder down the spines of all of us,” remarked Jealous.

Jealous cited the NAACP’s history of supporting people’s freedom and rights. He says that once the state starts restricting one freedom, they will look for other things.

“From a civil rights perspective, it’s a trojan horse. It’s an opportunity to get people at their weakest point of consensus. It’s an opportunity to get in their and change the whole reality when it come’s to rights protection,” said Jealous.

This isn’t the first time the NAACP has tackled marriage. Anti-miscegenation laws-laws that criminalized interracial marriage since the late 1700’s, were on the books until 1967. Jealous’ own parent’s marriage was illegal. He says he meets people in white and black communities that supported anti-miscegenation laws. But, none of them, he says, support them now.

Jealous cited the NAACP’s fight against anti-miscegenation laws when talking about the black community’s own split on the subject of same-sex marriage. It’s widely reported that black voters and especially black churches oppose same-sex marriage. In Minneapolis, Reverend Jerry McAfee of New Salem Baptist Missionary Church is one of them. McAfee is split President Obama’s stance on gay marriage and has pledged his support for the marriage restriction amendment.

“It tends to be opponents in the black community who are the most vocal, which is one of the reasons why we’re here intentionally raising our voice and making sure people understand where we stand and encouraging them to discern between, if you will, what may be their religious tradition versus our combined civic duty to protect the right of fellow citizens,” said Jealous.

Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera, originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif.,  studied media and Spanish at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she earned her bachelor s. Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has been a news producer for KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, communications coordinator for Twin Cities Public Television's arts series MN Original, and producer for the Association of Minnesota Public and Educational Radios Stations for the series MN90: Minnesota History in 90 Seconds.

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