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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 18, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 20
Clyburn endorses marriage equality, says national policy needed
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Clyburn endorses marriage equality, says national policy needed

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House endorsed marriage equality in an MSNBC interview on May 14.

'I, like the president, have evolved to a point of marriage equality,' Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told network anchor Chuck Todd.

'I have not always been there. I grew up in a parsonage, a fundamentalist Christian parsonage, and I grew up with that indoctrination. And I have grown to the point that I believe that we have evolved to marriage equality.'

Clyburn added that he disagreed with President Obama on the correct approach to take in establishing equal marriage rights for Lesbian and Gay couples.

'If we consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don't think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach. I think we should have a national policy on this,' Clyburn said.

An African-American veteran of the civil rights movement - he met his future wife in jail after a student protest - Clyburn can recall when 'states' rights' was the slogan of segregation.

'In my lifetime it was illegal in some states - this state one of them - for black and white couples to get married,' said Clyburn, who spoke from his district in South Carolina.

'Sometimes it takes the federal government to step into the breach to resolve many of these issues,' Clyburn added.

'It certainly did that through the courts with the marriage question and it also did the same thing when it comes to whether people of color have the same rights that white people have,' he said in reference to the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia.

In that case, the court struck down a Virginia law banning interracial marriage.

'The freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations' that violate the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, the court said in Loving.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the second-ranking House Democrat, endorsed marriage equality May 10, the day after Obama's historic interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a long-time supporter of equal marriage rights and a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA. Pelosi also signed Freedom to Marry's 'Democrats Say I Do' letter calling for a marriage equality plank in the Democratic Party's national platform.

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