Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. as a leader in equality for all

Believing that Dr. Martin Luther King would have stood for marriage equality.

By Melanie Nathan, April 04, 2013.


Kristina Lapinski of GAY U.S.A. the Movie, filming the memorial to Dr. Martin LutherKing, Jnr.

When Dr. Marin Luther King, Jnr. was assassinated on April 04, 1968,  I was a small child in South Africa, living apartheid.  I came to the United States in 1985, before apartheid ended, expecting a country that embraced full equality. I was wrong.  The United States segregated gays and lesbians through exclusion and applying different laws to same-sex couples. As time moved on it became worse, as the United States implemented The Defense of Marriage Act, in 1994, that defined marriage for the union of a man and woman, only.

Today a post apartheid South Africa has an all inclusive constitution that embraces sexual orientation and gender identity with full equality. The United States of America does not. Yet I believe that had Dr. King been alive today, he would have stood hand in hand on those steps of SCOTUS and maybe we would not have had to be there in the first place.

Martin Luther King, Jnr. was an American clergyman, activist, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, best known for his seismic role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. His impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s led to the ending of the the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the United States.

While in Washington D.C. I visited Dr.Kings  memorial, a stunning experience – almost hallowed ground – as thousands paid tribute.  This visit took place during an historic week, for LGBT Americans.  The very week that we stood on the steps of SCOTUS, screaming for equality, during the time that nine Supreme Court justices heard arguments for and against marriage equality, one of the very basic civil rights, denied to gays and lesbians in most of America, and a civil right that where allowed in America still denigrates LGBTI Americans to second class citizen, through the denial of over 1,100 federal rights and benefits.

I had the great honor of meeting Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton while Kristina Lapinski of GAY U.S.A. the Movie interviewed her for the film. The Congresswoman,  an organizing student during the Civil Rights movement spoke to us of her experiences with gay civil march organizer, Bayard Rustin, a critical Dr. King advisor, and also spoke movingly of the essential humanity of equality for for all.

Although a coalition of African American Pastors have held the hand of the anti-gay NOM, and reacted negatively to equality for same-sex couples in marriage, such as Rev. Bill Owens who noted in this statement that promotes segregation for children with single, adoptive, or same-gender parents:

“Gay activists are wrong to claim the mantle of the civil rights movement in their push to redefine marriage fort all- the most important right related to marriage is the right of every child to a mother and father.”

In stark contrast are the words of Dr. King himself. I cannot think of a freedom of spirit, more in keeping with the ideal of the civil rights movement and Dr. King’s statement, than the right to equal treatment under the law when it comes to marrying the love of one’s life:

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, EQUALITY, and freedom for their spirits.”

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3 Comments on “Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. as a leader in equality for all”

  1. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui April 4, 2013 at 9:38 PM #

    Blacks were discriminated in the past because people prejudged their behaviors based upon their skin color, and that is wrong.

    Homosexuals are defined by their behavior. Homosexuals have special rights as they are the ONLY group included in the Civil Rights Act based upon behavior. Their behavior is now disrupting civil society and sexual orientation needs to be removed from the law.

    • Melanie Nathan April 5, 2013 at 7:13 AM #

      Jean-Jaques you have some understanding! LOL and you made me laugh. Who defines homosexuals by their behavior? The people who do not know what homosexuality means. It is a form of sexuality just as heterosexuality is – yet heterosexual relationships are not defined by the fact that couples in love have a sexual behavior that goes with it. I mean really there is no substantial difference. The only difference is that heterosexuals fall in love with people of the opposite gender, while homosexuals fall in love with people of the same gender. And then that love is expressed through the act of sex as one aspect of the relationship only. Now of course both heterosexuals and homosexuals often have sex for the sake of sex, maybe not even being in love.

      That said – sheez it feels like I am explaining this to a high school kid – okay back to what I was saying – that said – Oh no insult to high school kids – I know many who really have been educated and understand this fact! Okay back to what I was saying – homosexuals defined by ONLY their behavior on then being defined by ignorance and those who do not get it!

      Gay people – homosexuals and lesbians form relationships and deserve equality in those relationships. If they do not get equality like the 1,138 federal rights that marriage brings, then they have been segregated under the law. Treated differently. because they are going to have those relationships anyway. Gay people should not be fired from jobs simply because they are gay. Gay people should not be excluded from anything that straight people participate in just because they are gay.

      So Civil rights and civil laws must clearly apply to everyone equally. The Constitution has a clause that calls for equal treatment under the law.

      So my question to you Jean is how are gay people disrupting civil society. How are gay people disrupting your life? Show me one example. Prove it. It seems to me to be that straight people who deny gay people equality are the ones causing the disruption. I can prove that. Yet It took the country’s most brilliant lawyers in Court in the Prop 8 case and they could not come up with one single feasible argument to show that gay people hurt anyone else’s life or anything in society at all. So how do you remove a natural born sexual orientation from the world – from existence- you cant – its the design of the Universe like it or not. If it were not designed to be then it would not exist at all. AND hence all gay people – all homosexuals – all lesbians should absolutely be included in the civil law of the USA. I have no doubt in my mind that Dr. King would have felt the same way. Gay people should not be removed from the law – they should be added to all the laws as a protected class of human beings.

      Good luck with your thinking Jean. The USA is changing and people are getting it. You fall in the minority of thought!

  2. charlesohalloranboyd January 21, 2014 at 10:38 PM #

    Jean-Jacques, your own statement demonstrates the flaw in your argument. You state that, “homosexuals are defined by their behavior.” You then say that, “Homosexuals have special rights as they are the ONLY group included in the Civil Rights Act based upon behavior” and “sexual orientation needs to be removed from the law.” Sexual orientation, which is what defines a person as gay, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc., is not behavioral. Rather, sexual orientation is an intrinsic trait that determines whether someone is attracted to people of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both. A celibate person with a gay sexual orientation is still gay. I should also point out that, unfortunately, sexual orientation is not covered under federal anti discrimination law, despite what you suggest. Shameful though it is, in many states it is perfectly legal to fire someone or refuse to sell/rent them a house for being gay. And while I fully agree with the federal prohibition of discrimination based on religion, I find it to be a double standard that I cannot be denied a job for choosing to be a Christian, but my gay and lesbians friends and family can be denied jobs for being born gay.

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