This week the voters in the state of Maine will go to the polls to decide on a gay marriage referendum that is widely considered a test case for the rest of the nation. This vote is so important that Californians who successfully organized in support of Proposition 8, and thus outlawed gay marriage there, have moved wast. Groups dedicated to the defeat of gay marriage have set up camp in Maine to deny consenting adults the right to legally wed.
This is a national scandal, but it moves the issue to the forefront again and gives the African-American community a chance to reaffirm its support for equal rights by supporting gay marriage. Black communities have a long, sad history of homophobia which has led many black people to oppose same-sex marriage, sometimes on religious or moral grounds. But after having served as the moral conscience of the nation during the long struggle for justice and equal rights in the last century, black Americans cannot be absent from, or take the wrong side in, this latest struggle for basic human rights.