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NAACP conference leader resigns over group’s support of marriage equality

Thursday, June 7, 2012
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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Rev. Keith Ratliff, president of the Iowa and Nebraska conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), has resigned over the group’s national board resolution in support of same-sex marriage.

Ratliff, pastor of Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, has long been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, and said he has been struggling with the group’s vote during a leadership retreat last month.

Rev. Keith Ratliff

On May 18, the NAACP passed a resolution endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Ratliff has previously complained that gay rights activists had “hijacked” the civil rights debate, reported the Des Moines Register.

“There is no parallel” between gay rights activism and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said Ratliff, whose church has a predominately black membership.

“That is an insult to the civil rights movement.” He added, “Deviant behavior is not the same thing as being denied your right to vote.”

The NAACP resolution — coming on the heels of President Barack Obama’s historic support for marriage equality, and subsequent polling on the issue among African-Americans — stated that it was demanded by the equal protection guarantees written into the U.S. Constitution.

“When people ask why the NAACP stands firmly for marriage equality, we say that we have always stood against laws which demean, dehumanize, or discriminate against any person in this great country. That is our legacy,” said Roslyn Brock, chairman of the NAACP’s board, in a statement last month elaborating on board’s decision to support marriage equality.

Ratliff’s Iowa/Nebraska Conference includes NAACP branches in Lincoln, Omaha, Ames, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines and Sioux City.

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