NAACP: Same-sex marriage a civil right

Trenton Garris (right) joins other demonstrators showing their support for President Barack Obama as he visits the Paramount Theater one day after announcing his support for same sex marriage last week.

MIAMI — The NAACP passed a resolution Saturday endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right and opposing any efforts “to codify discrimination or hatred into the law.”

The NAACP’s board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the U.S. Constitution.

“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people,” Board Chairwoman Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.

The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama’s announcement followed Vice President Joe Biden’s declaration in a TV interview that he is “absolutely comfortable” with gay couples marrying.

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.

Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April showed 39 percent of blacks favor gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of whites. The poll showed 49 percent of blacks and 43 percent of whites are opposed.