NAACP's Long History on Marriage Equality

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, writes in a piece for the Huffington Post that the NAACP has stood by LGBT people before.

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NAACP President Ben Jealous (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, writes in a piece for the Huffington Post that the NAACP has stood by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people before.

This isn't the first time the NAACP has stepped out on principle on an issue that affects the lives of LGBT people. Nor is it the first time they will experience a predictable, orchestrated backlash. Those of us celebrating their decision to support marriage equality must now also step up on the organization's behalf.

Over the weekend, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization took the logical yet heroic step of publicly supporting marriage rights for gay couples. In doing so, the NAACP has joined President Obama and Hispanic civil rights leaders in dramatically accelerating the movement for marriage equality and hastening the day when it becomes the law of the land. The exhilaration and pride I felt as a black lesbian in my civil rights organization took me back nearly 20 years, to the time that the NAACP stepped out on a skinnier limb at a pivotal moment to stand up for LGBT equality.

In 1993, as a co-chair of the March on Washington, I was called on to meet with NAACP Board Chair William Gibson about the possibility of their national board endorsing the march. I flew to South Carolina and met with him for several hours in the lobby of a hotel. He told me about his work registering voters and his desire to reenergize young people in the NAACP work. He asked me questions about homophobia at the Air Force Academy.

Read the rest of Nadine Smith's piece at the Huffington Post.

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