The Baltimore chapter of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has joined
the effort to legalize gay marriage in Maryland.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality
announced on Friday that the group had joined its steering committee.
“Having the NAACP on board is a
welcome addition to the coalition to win marriage equality in the
Free State,” said Sultan Shakir, campaign manager for Marylanders
for Marriage Equality. “The NAACP's long history of working for
equality and fairness for all will be instrumental in harnessing the
supportive voices in the African-American community and throughout
Baltimore branch NAACP President Tessa
Hill-Alston added: “We believe gay and lesbian couples have the
same values as everyone else. They want to make a lifetime
commitment to the person they love and build a loving, stable family.
So it is only right that committed gay and lesbian couples be given
the same opportunity to marry as everyone else.”
The announcement comes 2 days after
Governor Martin O'Malley was recognized
at a fundraiser for his support of marriage equality. O'Malley
has pledged to sponsor a gay marriage bill during next year's
legislative session, which begins in January.
While NAACP officials are increasingly
supportive of gay rights, the issue of marriage has deeply divided
the civil rights group. A vocal opponent of marriage equality in
Iowa is the Rev. Keith Ratliff, the pastor of Maple Street Missionary
Baptist Church in Des Moines and the president of the Iowa-Nebraska
chapter of the NAACP.
In March, Ratliff
claimed that gay rights advocates had “hijacked” the civil rights
“For deviant behavior is not the same
thing as being denied the right to vote because of the color of one's
skin,” Ratliff said. “For deviant behavior is not the same thing
as being denied where one may sit on a bus.”
“What an insult to the civil rights