On the day that the U.S. Supreme Court, hopefully begins to make up its mind and say, "Yes" to Constitution-based marriage equality for same sex couples, may the nation begin to become serious about Constitution-based economic and educational equality and equal access for ALL Americans. As I watched on TV the violence and looting in Baltimore on the day of the funeral of Freddie Gray and the swearing in of our second black Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, remembered, April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated. I, with clergy and other community leaders, walked up and down Boston's Blue Hill Avenue seeking to urge peace rather than violence in response to the killing of Martin Luther King.
Many of us viewed the violence in city after city in the nation following the death of Martin Luther King, the "Apostle of Nonviolence," as a contradiction of all Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement believed and practiced. Some will say that the violence in Baltimore on the day Freddie Gray was buried, the day Loretta Lynch was sworn in, and in the "final quarter" of our nation's first black president, Barack Obama, was contradictory as well.
But, Baltimore and its violence against property, hammers home the fact that neither a black president nor back-to-back black Attorney Generals usher in a post racial/racist era. Thus just as the nation more and more affirms the Constitution-based validity of same sex marriage, we must affirm and act upon the creation of economic and educational equality for all Americans, particularly those who from the beginnings of our nation, were viewed as second class or less: Black Americans.
Ta-Nehisi Coates in his June 2014 ATLANTIC cover story, "The Case for Reparations," "calls the roll" of the race-based barriers African Americans have faced as the "Imported" –not the Indigenous nor Immigrants- but slaves who were brought to America to provide free slave labor. Coates suggests that America will not be America until it begins to repair the damage done to the lives, spirits and culture of those who are the descendants of slaves. I contend that we should not allow the financial challenges of reparations keep us from beginning to engage in "Reparations Remembering" of our Black history that we too often deny or revise.
Today's New York Times (4/28/2015) on its front page has a headline at the top of the page that reads, "Clashes Rock Baltimore After Funeral; Curfew is Set" and on the left side of the front page, an article titled "Advocates Seek Sweeping Ruling in Marriage Case."
I believe that the USA is mature enough or must become mature enough to engage in "Justice multi-tasking." We must not allow the justice needs of same sex couples to thwart the need for economic/educational justice for Black Americans. Nor, should we allow what is taking place in Baltimore and throughout the nation to provide alibis or excuses for not moving toward full justice for LGBTQI persons and same sex couples.
Paul Krugman in a NY Times op-ed writes of how we are reluctant to acknowledge that we have made mistakes. "...We live in an age of unacknowledged error." Today, at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justices will wrestle with how they will respond to the "error" of denying marriage equality to same sex couples. May the nation today, also, finally decide that it must correct the errors in justice that have for too long been responsible for making Black Americans second class or less in education, economics, employment, income, housing, net worth and influence.
My hope is that we who are gay rights advocates, gay and straight, will link arms with a host of others in confronting the economic and educational disparities between the black community and other communities. May historians be able to write that on the day that Baltimore erupted and on the next day when the Supreme Court moved toward affirming marriage equality for same sex couples, a coalition emerged that began to do what had not been done before, acknowledging and addressing the damage done to black slaves and the sons and daughters of black slaves by a nation that claimed to be rooted in democracy and justice.
"Black and Gay Lives Matter;" it is not either/or, but both/and.
~ Gil Caldwell, Co-partner in Truth in Progress and retired United Methodist pastor
On this day with our eyes on Baltimore and the boiling rage and heartache and on SCOTUS hearing the constitutionality of marriage equality, Truth in Progress is posting this HuffPost article, "A Single Garment of Destiny: Looking Beyond Marriage Equality and the Supreme Court," by our friend and colleague, Dr. Dorothee Benz, as a complementary piece to Gil's (linked below) on Justice multi-tasking.
"Those of us with our eyes hopeful on the Supreme Court today must realize that the future of LGBTQ rights is bound up with the civil rights and human rights of all people, across town and across the globe. 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' Martin Luther King wrote from his jail cell in Birmingham. 'We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny.'"