Gay Politics, Black Reality

Posted: Jan 12, 2004 12:00 AM
Things have never looked so good for gay activists. In November, the Supreme Court declared state anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional. And the Supreme Court of Massachusetts opened the door to gay marriage. It seems the entire gay political agenda is about to be signed, sealed, and delivered.

Why then, as a black activist, deeply committed to the principles of freedom and equality under the law, do I see these developments as dangerous and destructive?

The gay front would like to be viewed as the latest chapter of the civil rights movement. According to their reasoning, gays are America's newest oppressed minority, seeking fairness, justice, and the right to pursue happiness in the same manner as other social groups in the country. Homosexuals today feel they are fighting the same battle that blacks fought 40 years ago.

But, in fact, the gay movement is the civil rights movement turned on its head.

When Martin Luther King came to Washington and articulated his dream on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, he spoke of an America that would live up to the truths and principles upon which it was founded. America then, in all its greatness, was a flawed and troubled place because in our midst there were human beings - fellow citizens - who were not treated as free and equal. The spirit of our principles and the letter of our law were not being applied equally to all.

The civil rights movement of the 1960's was about living up to and applying our principles, not re-writing or re-inventing them. There was no tradition on which this country was founded that Dr. King challenged. It was upon those very traditions that he made his challenge and claim.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, America became an increasingly politicized society. The sense that freedom is about law and that government is the means by which we protect our citizens under that law was displaced by a sense that government could be used as a political tool.

We can see the trend simply by looking at the federal budget. Non-defense spending, as a percentage of gross domestic product is twice today what it was in the 1960's. Money and political power displaced tradition and law as our framework for justice.

Gay politics is the child of the new political America. In a fashion quite the opposite of Dr. King - who challenged an unjust nation to return to the principles and traditions from which it had strayed - gay political operatives work to re-write our traditions to suit their own proclivities. They say their struggle is about equality, but it's really about the exercise of political power and claims for entitlement.

The fact that homosexual marriage is now the main subject of discussion shows that we're already headed down the slippery slope. The discussion whether gay behavior reflects choice or genetics has disappeared. Victimization has quietly won the day.

Black America has already been devastated by the politics of victimization and undermining tradition. Forty years ago, 70 percent of black families were intact, with husband and wife together. Out of wedlock births were a third of what they are today. Here is a snapshot have how things look now in America's inner cities:

* 60 percent of black children grow up in fatherless homes.
* 800,000 black men are in jail or prison.
* 70 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers.
* Over 300,000 black babies are aborted annually.
* 50 percent of new AIDS cases are in the black community.
* Almost half of young black men in America's cities are neither working nor in school.

This depressing picture is the product of 40 years of welfare state propaganda that purged values and personal responsibility from black life and replaced them with a message that the answer to life's problems is government programs.

The prodigious challenge that the black community faces today is to restore the black family and to revitalize the values and traditions that will keep those families together and enable them to raise emotionally and spiritually healthy productive children.

Sadly, we are far from that goal. We must deal with a deeply damaged community, as the statistics above show. And in conveying our message, we must compete for the attention of fatherless black children with the ongoing destructive messages spouted by popular American culture. The last thing we need at this point is the legal marginalization of our traditional values, which is what the gay community wants.

Martin Luther King's dream was an American society that would permit black freedom. My dream is a black community that becomes mature and responsible enough to take advantage of the freedom it now has. We cannot afford to sit by idly while others work to undermine the very values that are critical to making this dream possible.

Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), and author of the newly released book, "Uncle Sam's Plantation." which is available for purchase. She can be reached at .