NBJC Calls On Historic Civil Rights Group To Cease Actions Against LGBT-Affirming Reverend

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Asks SCLC to support LGBT-affirming Reverend Eric Lee

We hope the SCLC Board recognizes their mistake in singling out a true advocate for justice, and sees this incident as an opportunity to educate themselves on LGBT issues and to recognize their potentially historic role in advancing civil rights for all people, including gay people, going forward. I think a meeting with NBJC and SCLC Board would accomplish a great deal.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) contacted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Chairman Dr. Byron C. Clay calling on SCLC to reverse their earlier course of action, calling for a hearing and potential repercussions against the Rev. Eric Lee of the SCLC Los Angeles Chapter. In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, NBJC called for the historic civil rights group founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not to punish Rev. Lee for speaking out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

Dr. Sylvia Rhue, the Interim Executive Director of NBJC stated, "If SCLC were to take the extraordinary step of firing our good friend Rev. Lee, they would undermine their entire purpose in existing. They are supposed to be advocating for justice, and justice includes speaking up for LGBT people."

NBJC also asked the SCLC for a meeting with its national board to discuss LGBT issues. NBJC has been adamant that LGBT rights are civil rights, including the right for marriage equality. Recently, NBJC presented in front of the NAACP Board of Directors and made a similar case that historic civil rights organizations need to acknowledge that they are representing African American LGBT people and should recognize our community with affirming resolutions.

In part, the letter reads:

"Times are changing. We as black LGBT people are seeking our rights to marry. We are proud of who we are and what we do. We love our family, friends, relatives, community and the church. We ask that those who oppose gay marriage sit down with us at the 'kitchen table' to discuss LGBT issues and our authentic lives as God's children. We know that we can and will find a common ground where African Americans of goodwill can understand the true lives of the LGBT community?"

"Many have come to see that LGBT rights and Marriage Equality are the next phase of civil rights. In fact, we believe that challenging homophobia is part of the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement."

Jason Bartlett, Deputy Director of NBJC said, "We hope the SCLC Board recognizes their mistake in singling out a true advocate for justice, and sees this incident as an opportunity to educate themselves on LGBT issues and to recognize their potentially historic role in advancing civil rights for all people, including gay people, going forward. I think a meeting with NBJC and SCLC Board would accomplish a great deal."

The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.nbjcoalition.org/writings/nbjc-letter-to-sclc-july09.pdf

The National Black Justice Coalition (http://www.nbjc.org) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Our mission is to end racism and homophobia. NBJC envisions a world where all people are fully empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly in family, faith and community, regardless of race, gender-identity, or sexual orientation.

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Jason Bartlett
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