Today Yahoo! News reported that old Meathead himself, Rob Reiner, has weighed in on the gay marriage issue by declaring it “the last civil rights issue of our time.”
While I am certainly glad he is on our side of the issue I just want to take a brief moment and respond to his comment, which seems to assert that we live in a post-racial America.
The year 1963—fifty years ago—was an important year for the Civil Rights Movement. The Birmingham Campaign began, MLK wrote his infamous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," then delivers his "I Have a Dream” speech (which history has largely expunged the fact that the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” was just as much for "Jobs" as it was for “Feedom”), Malcolm X gave his "Message to the Grassroots," Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four precious little girls and injuring dozens more, and John Coltrane responds with his spine-tingling song "Alabama."
Fifty years later black Americans disproportionately make up the prison population (the 13th amendment, which gave them freedom from chattel slavery, also said prison was the only legal form of slavery—this is not a coincidence), the unemployed, targets of police brutality and voter suppression, and by far remain the poorest demographic in the United States. The KKK is freely marching in Memphis, with the blessing and support of the police and city council, while counter-protests have been stifled and met with resistance by the same official forces.
Gay marriage is most certainly a civil rights issue, and it's sad that it was not resolved ages ago, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking the race issue is behind us.
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