Claiming Coretta

I felt sad this morning when I got the news that Coretta Scott King died. Then, as passed by a television tuned to CNN this morning and heard the announcer say that “friend of the family” Bishop Eddie Long would be on shortly to talk about Ms. King’s death. I felt sick. It’s happening already. It always does. Dreamers die, and the ones who end up speaking in their wake have loud voices but only a clouded understanding of the dream, at best.

It’s a common practice with famous African Americans. It’s usually when someone who’s gay or lesbian dies — like Langston Hughes or Essex Hemphill. The body is barely cool before efforts begin to erase from the deceased past anything deemed embarrassing or unbecoming by the living. I didn’t hear Long’s comments (didn’t have the stomach for him), but I have a feeling the same is underway with Coretta’s passing.

First, let’s recall what Coretta had to say about gay & lesbian equality.

From HateCrime.Org

 ”I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice,” she said. “But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” “I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people,” she said. – Reuters, March 31, 1998.

“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood,” King stated. “This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.” – Chicago Defender, April 1, 1998, front page.

  “We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny . . . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be,” she said, quoting her husband. “I’ve always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy,” King told 600 people at the Palmer House Hilton, days before the 30th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968. She said the civil rights movement “thrives on unity and inclusion, not division and exclusion.” Her husband’s struggle parallels that of the gay rights movement, she said. – Chicago Sun Times, April 1, 1998, p.18.

She spoke out against anti-gay discrimination.

I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994 because I believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. My husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” On another occasion he said, “I have worked too long and hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible.” Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.

Most recently, when dozens of black ministers rallied against same-sex marriage, Coretta spoke up for equality.

“Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union,” she said. “A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.”

By contrast, Bishop Eddie Long mis-heard King’s call for justice as “just us,” and marched against marriage equality.

The Dec. 11 “Re-ignite the Legacy” march — coordinated by Bishop Eddie Long, leader of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia — drew between 20,000 and 25,000 people, according to Atlanta Police Department estimates.

The trek from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s gravesite to Turner Field was in response to Long’s call for black churches to become more vocal political players on issues like banning same-sex marriage, reforming the education and health care systems, and creating economic opportunities for minorities.

 And if you really want to know where he’s coming from, you can take it from someone who sat through one of Long’s long sermons.

“In Christ, God puts his seed in us. Any other way is a spiritual abortion. Cloning, Homosexuality and Lesbianism are spiritual abortions.”

“Homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man.”

… “God brings himself back to himself through covenant through blood. When the ordained process of God (marriage), when a virgin man has sex with a virgin woman, there is blood shed on his penis which represents covenant and the redemptive grace of God. That’s the reason why men, you are circumcised, so that every time you pull out your male organ and wants to go in the wrong direction, you can SEE that you are in covenant and anything that goes against the covenant is Anti-Christ. It creates a religious system that will not return God to God. Anything that will hinder that is Anti-Christ. It’s an abortion of the whole process of covenant and blood shedding.”

“…They (children) cannot have 2 female parents. They cannot have 2 male parents. They will be off balance.”

Bishop Long’s answer to “I was born that way” – “spirits can be inherited or acquired. You can have a strong domineering mama and a weak daddy that creates a spirit in the male child that makes him more effeminate. This is true for homosexuality or any other disorder in our lives.”

I can’t say whether Long is a close friend of the King family, but he’s a close friend of Bernice King who has, sadly enough, bought into bigotry.

 The sight of the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. standing at her father’s gravesite Saturday with thousands of demonstrators to denounce same-sex marriage was painful. The Rev. Bernice King and march organizers deliberately chose King’s resting place in Atlanta to imply that he would have stood with them.

… At Saturday’s event, King’s daughter was careful not to mention same-sex marriage in her talk. Her mentor and march organizer, Bishop Eddie Long, cautiously downplayed the issue, though media reported that Long’s Web site listed promoting a federal amendment against same-sex marriage as a major goal of the march. But Bernice King is an outspoken evangelical, and in the last couple of years she and other black evangelicals have marched, protested, and written letters and petitions denouncing such marriages. Polls show that black evangelicals’ hostility to same-sex marriage is much stronger than that of white evangelicals.

Maybe I took heart in what Coretta had to say about gay & lesbian equality, because it gave me some hope that my black evangelical parents — of the same generation as Coretta — might come around. Either way, I can’t help taking a moment upon her passing to reflect and remind people where she stood on equality.

Let’s hope that Long is not the spokesperson for the King family. And let’s remember that Coretta understood that her husband’s dream was for everybody. She got it, even if those who remain — including her own child — don’t. Don’t let anyone forget that. And don’t let them tell you “now is not the time.” If it isn’t, it never will be.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
This entry was posted in Civil Rights, Current Events, Gay Rights, Politics, Race, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Claiming Coretta

  1. Nio says:

    Do you think Martin III will become the "leader"?  What are your opinions of him?

  2. ron says:

    I am extremely pleased that you provided the excellent quotations from Mrs. King.  She was perhaps the only shining light in an increasingly, intensely homophobic African-American community, in standing up for GLBT individuals and people with AIDS.  I am continually amazed at how insanely, rabidly homophobic African-Americans generally are as a group — yes, I suppose I am stereotyping here, etc., but it certainly seems astonishingly accurate to me.  If there is one group in America that should know better, it’s African-Americans.  And I honestly think that the continuing fight for freedom, justice, equality, and tolerance will go nowhere for Blacks — or anyone else — in America until this sorry state of affairs radically changes.

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  4. Donald Cole says:

    I am gravely disappointed at how Bishop Long and Reverrend Miss B. King position on homosexuality,  I do not believe she knows enough about her father to make a correct accessment of his beliefs and values.  What he thought about homosexuals.  I believe she is being influenced by a preacher with a hidden agenda and cause.  She is being played and allowing her person to be used for political purposes by the Christian-right. Sad.    The historical facts and information is clear and white right wingers have been trying to steal the legacy already with ministries like Bishop Long.  Stick to our roots and develop your own understanding of the Civil Rights movement and it’s leaders to include Bayard Rustin…….a Black gay man close to Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was responsible for organizing the ground work for the march on Washington, when many so-called evangelicals were still teaching separation of the races in their churches.

  5. Minister Mobley says:

    Bishop Eddie Long is a great leader and man of God. We as african americans and also white, asians, and hispanic brothers must follow his lead for the revealing of God’s glory on this earth. This world is not of equality and we must follow the new leaders of this world so Dr. King’s dream will be 
    manisfest in God’s glory.

  6. Lisa Finch says:

    What others fail to realized that while yes as Dr. King stats that injustice for one is injustice  for all. That does not in the same meaning state that I agree with what you stand for (homosexuality, abusers, drug addicts, thieves, etc). But what is being stated and what I believe will forever be stated is the True Word of God and his commandment as well as preaching how to live by God as children of God. However , when you starts speaking the word of God it is by it nature that spirits will be awaken whether they be spirits of good or evil. The evil spirits by nature will always use manipulation for their own doing and benefits. The march that was lead by Bishop Long was not a gay bashing demonstration it was a march that need to be taken by the people of God to  stand up for God and his principles. That did not mean that the church or its people said "hey we hate gays" no quite opposite we love you because you are a child of God as us and while we all have our own burdens and sorrow to bear NO ONE can judge or be judged by our peers for that is left up to God himself!  Cant we all see that this is clearly a divide and conquer spirit that was used on the slaves not its begining to be used in the church of God. Here is my last thought : If being gay, a bigot, prejudice, molester was ok would it have been written as a principle God spoke on? As far as I know God doesn’t go around speaking on the glory of hating one another, hurting one another or even sleeping with one another of the same sex.

  7. Aretha says:

    As a new member of Newbirth and a former lesbian for almost 10 years, I have seen and felt the love for people period (including GLBT) since October 2005 by the church and Bishop Eddie L. Long. I dont know why people direct all this hatred towards the man of God if he can back what he says up by the foundation of Christians, the BIBLE. It’s not just his words it’s the Word of God. Many people want to pick and choose what they want to believe as it relates to them personally. When all Christians need to do is take the time to search the truth and be obedient. It’s Hard but it’s Fair.

  8. Jenn says:

    Even though Coretta spoke of equal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation – she never said if she agreed that homesexuality was right. She only spoke of the political aspect of human rights – NOT THE BIBLICAL!  Bishop Long is dealing with the BIBLICAL ASPECT of homosexuality. True we all fall short of the glory of God and the Bible speaks of that. Don’t bash Bishop for speaking the word of God.

  9. Terrance says:

    Wrong, Jenn. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Long isn’t merely dealing with the "biblical aspect of homosexuality." He came out of the pulpit and marched against equality. He took a stand in favor of discrimination.

    Did you even read the post you were responding to? I won’ t "bash" Long if he won’t bash my family by advocating side of inequality and discrimination against my family. All I want is for my family to have the same rights and protections as any other family, and long is standing against that. In my book that makes him no better than the Klan. Remember, they claim to stand on the bible too.

  10. ahatcher says:

    There are things about homosexuality that are quite mysterious and unfathomable to one such as myself.  I dare say that most homosextuals understand fully their predicament.  I think the ancients had a great deal of insight into the nature of homosextuality which is why it was rejected in the bible.  Even though it was rejected the individual was not- reject the sin not the sinner.  Or than this bit of knowledge I have not other wisdom to add.

  11. Arthur says:

    As an African American, the biggest problem I have with this whole “gay rights” issue is how homosexuals and those sympothetic to their cause have effectively fooled people into thinking that they deserve some kind of extra or special “rights.” For the most part, there are already laws on the books against everything they experience.

    I have always been offended by this ridiculous comparison of “gay rights” with the civil rights movement. People think that just because the word “rights” appears in both, that this means they are speaking of the same thing. They are not.

    I also disdain all this crazy speculation about whether or not the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King would have supported these “gay rights.” Well, if anyone can show me from his writings (which I have a nice size collection of), where Dr. King thought homosexuality was fine or somehow a “right,” then you have a sound basis for your speculation. Otherwise, you need to stop speculating on what Dr. King would have done.

    And we can’t think that just because Coretta (God rest her soul) spoke up for “equality” for gays and lesbians that this means Dr. King would have followed suite. This does not follow (in logic we call that a non sequitur), since a man’s wife does not always follow her husband’s theology (yes, I said theology, since Dr. King was a BAPTIST minister, just like Bishop Long).

    And I am very proud of Dr. King’s daughter, Bernice, for staying true to her father’s Biblical legacy by standing up for Biblical marriage.

    You can try all you want to turn sin into some form of “rights,” but clear thinking and Biblically minded people will not fall for such sophistry. In the end, who cares what Coretta thought or what Dr. King would have thought. They didn’t create an ameoba. It is what the Creator thinks that we need to be concerned about, and He did NOT make anyone “gay,” and any such “marriage” of such people is a distortion of what marriage is all about according to the Designer of the instituion. It is an insult of the highest order.

  12. Ms_07 says:

    I am so sick of everyone, yes even in the Body of Christ bashing Bishop Long. What Bishop Long stands for can be backed up by scripture. So all of you who have something to say against Bishop Long, take it up with God, because that’s really who you have the problem with. All of this homosexuality and lesbianism mess is all sexual immorality. God created woman for man, not man for man and woman for woman.
    1 Chronicles 16:22 
     
     22 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
           do my prophets no harm.”

  13. Erasmus says:

    The amount of homophobia that exists in the African-American Community is appalling and the biblical literalism frightening. At the risk of offending people who are biblical literalists, Adam and Eve are metaphorical people, not real people. And, just to tickle your brain, does the back cover on the Bible mean that God has ceased to reveal himself to humanity in new and different ways? Finally, did God not reserve his harshest words for those false shepherds who deceived the people and went along with the status-quo in order to maximize their personal gain? What is whispered now in secret will one day be shouted from the rooftops and what a shaking of the foundations that will be.

  14. eizarc says:

    Stop the maddness, ya’ll know doing gay $&#! ain’t right. It is basic as learning how to walk. Stop  
    making excuses, like I was born this way. Dare to be diffrent. Not gay!

  15. k. maurice jones says:

    THIS TWO-FACED TWISTING OF THE UNIVERSAL LOVE OF CHRIST IS NOTHING SHORT OF GOING OUT THE WORLD ASS BACKWARDS. WHEN CHRIST PREACHED THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, THE DECREE WAS “WHOSOEVER WILL…” WHAT GIVES REV. B KING AND BISHOP EDDIE LONG THE SELF-APPOINTED DIVINE RIGHT TO ENCOURAGE SUCH SPIRITUAL HATIN’? THE PEOPLE WILL PERISH BECAUSE OF IGNORANCE. WAS FOR “THE CHILDREN”, IF WE EVER NEEDED THE LORD, SHO DO NEED HIM/HER NOW RIGHT NOW! WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY/DO? WOULD HE GET IN THE LINE WITH BUJU AND SHABBA RANKS? I RECOMMEND WE CHRISTIAN CHECK OURSELVES, AND START DOING THE JESUS WALK!

  16. k. maurice jones says:

    WHAT GIVES REV. B KING AND BISHOP LONG THE RIGHT TO WITHDRAW THE HAND OF FELLOWSHIP. JC, THE ULTIMATE REOVLUTIONARY MISSIONARY PREACHED A UNIVERSAL GLSPEL OF INCLUSION. “WHOSOEVER WILL …” HATARATION WAS NOT A PART OF THE EQUATION. I SUGGEST THAT SUCH BLIND LEADERS WHO ARE BEHAVING LIKE DEMENTED SWINE DO THE “JESUS WALK.” PRAISE GOD FOR KANYE WEST. “THE PEOPLE SHALL PERISH FOR LACK OF KNWOLEDGE.” I SAY, IGNORANCE KILLS. MY GRANDMOTHER USED TO SAY: yOU GOING OUT THE WORLD ASS BACKWARDS!” ULTIMATELY, WHAT OWULD JESUS DO? LIKE AREHTA SAY: “yOU BETTER THINK!”

  17. Jack Yan says:

    I agree, Maurice. Christ never intended His example to be used for hate—and Terrance is right to remind us of Mrs King’s own ministry. I have quoted Dr King on a number of occasions in the field of marketing, of all things—what he preached was as valuable then as it is now. Coretta Scott King’s words, too, I believe, will last well beyond any efforts to twist her record by the likes of Bishop Long.

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