Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), believes its time African-Americans started talking about gay marriage.

In an op-ed titled Why Marriage in Maryland Matters and published in the Afro-American, Bond calls on America to widen the discussion of marriage.

“Let's face it: Marriage for gay and lesbian couples is often perceived as a White issue. Yet, there are thousands of African-Americans … who are gay, in committed relationships and want to marry. … So it's probably time the country started talking about the issue in more diverse terms – and time the African-American community started, well, talking about it,” Bond wrote.

“And there's no better place to begin this work than in Maryland, where a quarter of voters are Black. Marylanders are heading to the polls in November to uphold or undo the same-sex marriage law signed earlier this year by Governor Martin O'Malley. Same-sex marriage supporters, who believe in treating people fairly and equally under the law, have a 14-point lead – unheard of in the marriage battles. Most telling, African Americans in the state are now evenly divided. A year ago a majority was opposed.”

Bond added that the support of President Barack Obama and the NAACP “yanked marriage for Black gay and lesbian couples out of the closet.”

“African Americans are now sitting around the dinner table talking about it and realizing at the end of the day it's about treating people fairly and making families stronger. No longer do ignorance and prejudice dominate the debate.”

(Related: NAACP's Julian Bond urges Marylanders to support gay marriage.)