The other loss this week (besides the highly publicized Steve Jobs) was the passing of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth who was an original founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Rev. Martin Luther King. In fact, Shuttlesworth is among the three top civil rights leaders most often mentioned together by historians of that era, the other two being Dr. King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy.
I have a board member who knew Rev. Shuttlesworth in his latter years. The renowned leader was always a champion of human rights, kindness and fair treatment toward others. He was also proud of the history of the civil rights movement and did not want to see it's legacy diminished, cheapened or hijacked by new political activists. The always bold and outspoken Rev. Shuttlesworth wrote a statement in that regard several years ago when he was again the interim leader of the SCLC for my Board member. Here is part of that statement, which he titled, "Is Gay Rights a Civil Rights Issue?":
"I was among the original five who started the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and our primary focus back then was to put an end to racial segregation under the Jim Crow system. As the SCLC's first secretary, I never took down anything in our minutes that addressed the issue of gay rights. The issue of gay rights was not our focus, and should not be confused with The Civil Rights Movement.
The big question being asked today is whether or not gay rights and civil rights are one and the same. Despite what many of this world may argue, I cannot waiver from the God-established principle that marriage is a union meant to be shared between a man and a woman; and should not ignored! God created men to be husbands of wives, and women to be wives. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus sanction same sex marriages, so as a minister and a devoted follower of the teachings of Christ, I cannot personally endorse nor support same sex marriages on any level."
You probably will not see this aspect of Rev. Shuttlesworth reported anywhere else, but I can assure you that his view is far more prevelant than many people realize. Among the African American community, particularly its church leaders the equating of a sexual behavior with one's inborn, unchangeable, benign skin color is offensive.