The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter, the Rev. Eric Lee, in response to his oppositions to Proposition 8 in California banning same sex marriage. This from Saturday’s New York Times:
During the battle last fall over Proposition 8, an amendment to the State Constitution that banned same-sex marriage, the chapter’s president, the Rev. Eric P. Lee, was more than a tangential figure for the opposition. He was front and center at an opposition group’s large rally at City Hall and marched in the blazing sun for 15 miles in Fresno. Many other local African-American pastors prepared mailings featuring church leaders in support of the proposition and linking their views to Barack Obama, then the Democratic nominee for president.You can read the entire article here.
Mr. Lee “was very helpful to us,” said Rick Jacobs, head of the Courage Campaign, a left-leaning political action group in Los Angeles that fought the initiative.
While the Mormon Church raised a great deal of the money in support of the proposition, the role of African-American churches, and their voting parishioners, was not insignificant. The Edison/Mitofsky exit poll in California found that 70 percent of black voters backed the ban, which passed with 52 percent of the vote.
Mr. Lee said that his opposition to Proposition 8 had “created tension in my life I had never experienced with black clergy.”
“But it was clear to me,” he added, “that any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have, that is a clear violation of civil rights and I have to speak up on that.”
In April, Mr. Lee attended a board meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Mo., and found himself once again in the minority position among his colleagues on the issue of same-sex marriage, but he was told, he said, by the group’s interim president, Byron Clay, that the organization publicly had a neutral position on the issue.
So a month later, Mr. Lee said, he was surprised to receive a call from the National Board of Directors summoning him immediately to Atlanta to explain why he had taken a position on same-sex marriage without the authority of the national board.
Explaining that he was unable to come to Atlanta on such short notice, Mr. Lee then received two letters from the organization’s lawyer, Dexter M. Wimbish, threatening him with suspension or removal as president of the Los Angeles chapter if he did not come soon to explain himself.