The latest from Sally Albright — The Rights Stuff. The gay rights movement draws ideas from the civil rights era.
Local gay rights advocates at the Alliance for Full Acceptance have two new billboards up on I-26 with a message that should spur conversations about how today’s movement for gays relates to the long fight for racial equality.
One of the billboards has two water fountains with one labeled “straight” and one labeled “gay” — a reference to the days of segregation of whites and blacks in every facet of daily life — with the tagline “Gay Rights Are Civil Rights.”
“If there are images that will stop people and make them think about it, then I think we should use it,” says Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of AFFA. “We can’t keep dancing around issues of language. We’re going to have to use imagery to show the connection.”
The idea for the billboard had been gestating until the Obama administration’s “Civil Rights” agenda was released with a host of reforms for gays and the transgendered, including repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, expanding hate crime laws, and providing civil union and federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples.
“That energized us,” Redman-Gress says. “It was almost like the president was sanctioning this kind of language.”
AFFA is using the term civil rights out of admiration for the predecessor to the gay rights movement.
“We’re not saying the experiences are the same,” he says. “But we can learn from the civil rights movement that came before us.”
One black leader who is welcoming the flattery is NAACP President Julian Bond. At a gay rights dinner last month, Bond told the crowd that his group is proud to support anti-discrimination efforts regarding sexual orientation.
“Black people of all people should not oppose equality,” he said. “And that’s what gay marriage is.”
The AFFA billboard campaign is expected to run for three months, along with a combination of print, TV, and radio ads.
And the local gay rights group isn’t the only one trying to bridge the divide between gays and blacks.
South Carolina Equality, a statewide group the presses for gay rights reforms, is developing an Opening Doors program that will work to find common ground in the two communities. A first effort will be Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner — pot luck events around the state that will facilitate the discussion on civil rights and what can be accomplished together.
“Discrimination is discrimination,” Redman-Gress says.
American Apparel, which has a King Street store, is offering a T-shirt online with "Legalize Gay: Repeal Prop 8 Now." In this era of being disappointed in one anti-gay business after another, it's nice to have a business you can support because theyr'e supporting you.
Meanwhile, Kenny Chesney has had about enough of the rumors that he's gay. There are apparently more than 100 women who will confirm that he is not gay — they would likely also tell you he's an apparent manwhore that has been spared from VD by the grace of god.
Glenn McCall, South Carolina's first black representative on the National Republican Committee, told a group of young Republicans over the weekend that the party has to focus on its base while also reaching out to minority groups.
He said the party can reach out to Hispanic and black voters without diluting its message. In one example, McCall pointed to black voters' opposition to gay marriage.
"I don't think we have to compromise what we believe," McCall said.
Gee, I wonder if there is some way to compromise without compromising your principle.
A Myrtle Beach principal has pulled a student newspaper (independently financed by advertising) because of an editorial supporting gay marriage.
The principal of the academy near Carolina Forest, Ronnie Burgess, said that he was concerned that the editorial, which was printed on the front page with a picture of two male students holding hands, would be disruptive to the school.
"I had some concerns about the content of the article and how it might impact students here and what the community concerns might be when the article was distributed," Burgess said. "At the academy we encourage diversity, we don't look to silence student voices, we hope to facilitate their expression."
AFFA has collected the contact information for those looking to let their voices heard on the issue.
Principal: Mr. Ronnie Burgess 843-903-8460 firstname.lastname@example.org
Horry County Schools Cindy Elsberry, Superintendent 843-488-6717 email@example.com