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Woman corners Kerry on issue of civil rights, ‘gay rights’

TOUGALOO, Miss. (BP)–A 74-year-old black woman cornered Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on the subject of homosexuality March 7, saying that civil rights should never be compared to homosexual rights.

The exchange, as reported by The New York Times and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., took place at a town hall-type meeting at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss.

“Most of the people in this country are sick and tired of the onslaught of the homosexual community using the civil rights movement to further their agenda,” Emma White of Jackson told Kerry, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

In addition, she said, according to The Times: “I don’t care what they say — there is no correlation between gay rights and civil rights in terms of what black Americans have gone through.”

White described herself as a Democrat who is an “independent voter,” The Times said, and received some applause, some boos.

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Kerry responded. “But — but -– but, I believe it’s important in the United States of America that we recognize that we have a Constitution which has an equal protection clause.”

Kerry then drew a parallel between Matthew Shepard, the homosexual college student who was beaten to death in Wyoming, and James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to death in Texas. Kerry misspoke in the reference to Byrd, saying that Byrd also was a homosexual.

“Let me tell you something,” Kerry said, “when Matthew Shepard gets crucified on a fence in Wyoming only because he was gay, when Mr. King gets dragged behind of a truck down in Texas by chains and his body is mutilated only because he’s gay — I think that’s a matter of rights in the United States of America.”

Not satisfied with the answer, White said, according to The Times: “My point is homosexuality is an idea. You have never heard a doctor say, ‘Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, you have a bouncing baby homosexual.’ It’s an idea.”

Kerry responded: “Well, I know the deep beliefs, I respect, I’m a Christian, I’ve read the Bible, and I know you can find the clauses that go both ways. I’m not here to argue that with you.”

“The only point I want to make to you is, I’ve talked to enough people — some of whom fought for their country in war — and I’ve talked to many of them who didn’t discover their own sexuality until they were 35, 40 years old, and it wasn’t because they made a choice, it was because they found out who they were. And I think you have to respect that that is the nature of it. And you can look at it, and argue it, but you know what, that’s irrelevant to the argument. American citizens deserve the protection of the equal protection clause.”

The exchange underscores the problem Kerry faces on the subject of same-sex “marriage,” particularly in the South. Polls show that Americans oppose same-sex “marriage” by a margin of 2-to-1.

President Bush favors a federal constitutional amendment that would protect the traditional definition of marriage, while Kerry opposes one.

Officials in San Francisco and Multnomah County, Ore., continue to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and pro-family lawyers have filed suits in both instances seeking an injunction.

A poll released March 7 showed that Oregon voters oppose same-sex “marriage” by a margin of 54-35 percent. Republicans in the poll opposed it (77-14 percent), while Democrats supported it (47-41 percent). The poll of 400 voters was conducted March 4 for The Oregonian.

The same-sex “marriage” controversy could spread next door to Washington. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said March 7 that his city would begin to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other states, although the city wouldn’t perform its own ceremonies. Nickels’ wishes run counter to state law, which explicitly prohibits same-sex “marriages.”

California and Washington are two of 38 states with a defense of marriage act. Oregon has no such law, although a group of pro-family leaders is collecting signatures in hopes of having a DOMA on the ballot this fall.
For more information on the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit BP’s story collection at:

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