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Black gay former Marine urges black Illinois lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage

Marquell Smith - Marriage Cover

As same-sex marriage victories mount across the nation, Illinois is the next state in the hot seat when it comes to marriage equality as a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is being debated by State lawmakers. And with reports claiming that six black state representatives are on the fence about the bill, a black gay former Marine recently wrote a powerful open letter to the representatives, explaining why it’s important for the black community to support marriage equality.

In the letter, authored by Marquell Smith and posted to Patch.com, the former Marine urges black lawmakers in the Illinois House to vote in support of same-sex marriage and chastises the use of the black church to further the divide of inequality.

“Some representatives have cited traditional religious beliefs as a reason they voted ‘no’ on civil unions, and will likely vote ‘no’ to marriage equality,” Smith wrote. “It breaks my heart that any elected leader would use the good people in African- American churches as justification to limit the rights of others, based on the prejudices of how we were raised.”

Smith, who was discharged in 2006 under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, then compared the struggle for equality with the African-American community to that of the LGBT community and claimed that the black church has no right to deny anyone the right to love who they want: “Like you, I’m African-American. I learned that the struggles of our people are a symbol of hope for those being discriminated against. We cannot let an important vehicle of past struggles — African-American churches — become the gatekeepers of the rights to dignity of others. Who are we to deny someone else the right to marry because we don’t agree with who they love?”

“Equality begins when people in positions of power enable everyone to live lives of decency and dignity, free from any prejudice in the law. Black folks did not want anyone’s permission to live freely; we can not rest until this dream is realized for everyone,” he added.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Division between minority groups can only help to ensure that all minority groups are continually marginalized and denied their basic rights. It’s imperative that the black community and LGBT factions see commonalities between their groups and forge a union in solidarity to ensure that both groups have the freedom to live, love and thrive without hindrance or discrimination.

Check out some other regions that are on the verge of legalizing same-sex marriage below. – nicholas robinson

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