STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL BLACK JUSTICE COALITION ON THE DENIAL OF MARRIAGE TO AN INTERRACIAL LOUISIANA COUPLE
WASHINGTON, D.C., FRIDAY, OCT. 16, 2009
The following statement may be attributed to Sharon J. Lettman, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC):
“It is hard to believe that a Louisiana state official could simply refuse to follow the law of the land as set forth in Loving v. Virginia. The status of this person as a justice of the peace is something that needs to be revoked.
“Time and again we have seen public officials discriminate against loving, committed couples and claim that their discrimination is really motivated by concern for children. That justification is wrong when it’s used to deny marriage to a couple on the basis of their race. It’s wrong when it’s used to prevent committed gay and lesbian couples from being able to marry. And it’s our responsibility to speak out against it, whenever it happens.
“Every child who is a minority faces discrimination, exclusion and oppression at some point in their lives. It is actions like those of this state official – refusing to marry a loving couple because of personal prejudice – that perpetuate the discrimination and racism that continue to pervade our culture.
“There is also the fact that this state official is just plain wrong. There are countless children of interracial parents who grew up to embody the strength of our families: President Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Soledad O’Brien. And parents themselves -- like Seal and Heidi Klum, former Defense Secretary William Cohen and journalist Janet Langhart. And the lists go on and on, with millions of successful families who have thrived in the face of prejudice directed at their parents and their children.
“The story of Connecticut state Rep. Jason Bartlett, also deputy director of the National Black Justice Coalition, illustrates this truth. When he grew up, his mother told him that he might not be accepted by some who are white, and might not be accepted by some who are black, because of his mixed heritage. But he learned through understanding who you are in the knowledge of your family’s love, that he could overcome those obstacles.
“It is that very love of a family that helps overcome the oppressions that so many Americans continue to face. And knowing who we are – as people, and as a family -- is at the heart of survival in a culture that is too-often still hostile to our lives.”
Lettman resides in the Washington, DC area and recently married a Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, who returned this past July from a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq.
The National Black Justice Coalition (www.NBJC.org) is America's only nationwide Black gay civil rights organization and is 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. Founded in 2003, NBJC is the authoritative source on LGBT issues as they affect Black communities.