Why being married is better for gay African Americans

Shante Wolfe (L) and Tori Sisson were among the first couples to gget married in Alabama. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

by Mahkesha Hogg
LGBT Black Issues Columnist

The bondage of black people in America began with slavery. It was also the beginning of the black family being torn apart. They were bred like cattle and members of families were sold separately to benefit the slave owners. So now that gay African Americans have the legal right to marry…they should. Freedom has not come easily to straight or gay African Americans.

Being considered a legal family unit has so much pride (no pun intended) and psychologists have said that a family with children has a better chance of succeeding if the parents are married. Also, society tends to think of a couple as more valid if they are married. For centuries black people were told that they could not get married and that they were not United States citizens. During slavery, the slaves would “jump the broom” as a ritual wedding ceremony in which a man and a woman were considered married. In some states, as recently as 1967, miscegenation laws prevented African Americans from marrying outside of their race.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26, 2015 gave millions of same-sex couples part of the American Dream – the right to marry. The Supreme Court also gave millions of African Americans the right to vote and the right to integrate. The Supreme Court justices know that the quality of life is better for all Americans when they are truly free and are able to pursue happiness just as our forefathers desired. I think that it is so awesome that our forefathers were looking out for the future of people that they probably would not have associated with due to social restriction. But that was their vision and it should be the vision of LGBT African American people.

The documentary written by filmmaker, Yoruba Richen called The New Black is about how African Americans are becoming more accepting of same-sex relationships in their communities. Yes! It is finally happening; in an evolutionary way. One of the participants in the documentary refers to the Black LGBT movement as the “unfinished business of black people being free.”

This pointed documentary also points out the irony of blacks being against marriage equality even though they know what social injustices feel like and how during the 2008 Presidential election of the first black President was also the time that Prop 8 (the defeat of marriage equality in California) passed by a vote of the people many of which were African American. A lot of that ideology comes from “It’s in the Bible” mentality. African Americans were introduced to Christianity during slavery and Christianity was a huge coping tool for them to get through the harsh reality they were living in. The Bible was also used in defense of slavery and segregation – now that is very ironic.

African Americans need to have that structure of a legal family unit in order to thrive and receive all of the 1,000 plus rights that come with marriage. For those gay LGBT African Americans whose families are against their union, use the correlation between racial rights and civil rights and how they are the same with civil rights including marriage equality. You cannot have it one way but not the other. The Constitution is used to protect all the rights, not just some. So if you, as an African American, love your right to vote and to drink from any water fountain that you want, then you must be for marriage equality as well.

The Gayly – August 9, 2015 @ 5:30pm.