Their latest tactic, however, takes the organization to an even further depth of shamelessness. In Minnesota, the group is running an advertisement using the image and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to defend their activism against marriage equality. According to the National Organization for Marriage, their work to take away the civil rights of LGBT people is in line with the vision of civil rights shared by Martin Luther King Jr.
The Minnesota Independent notes that the ad, created in tandem with the Minnesota Family Council, uses the image of King and civil rights rallies from the 20th century to suggest that fighting against gay marriage is just like fighting against segregation.
“With imagery of King and civil rights rallies in the ’60s superimposed on the U.S. Constitution, the ad slyly suggests that those promoting marriage rights for LGBT people are somehow in opposition to King’s values,” the Minnesota Independent notes.
Of course, you can’t rely on the National Organization for Marriage to get their facts right. Because as it turns out, Martin Luther King Jr.’s own wife, Coretta Scott King, said that MLK was supportive of gay rights. And one of MLK’s closest advisers, who helped him plan the March on Washington? That would be the openly gay Bayard Rustin.
The Minnesota Independent reprints a quote that Coretta Scott King gave before her death in 2006. Paraphrasing her husband, she noted that discrimination against anyone, whether on the basis of race or sexual orientation, is unjust.
“We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny … I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be,” she said. “I’ve always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy.”
Sure, there may be one member of the extended King family — his niece, Alveda — who is sympathetic to the National Organization for Marriage’s mission that gay marriage would cause genocide (Alveda’s own words, even). But to suggest that this represents the legacy of MLK, or that what the National Organization for Marriage is trying to accomplish today mirrors the work of civil rights activists in the 1950s and 60s is nothing short of abusive.
Moreover, the National Organization for Marriage ad not only uses MLK’s image, but it’s also trying to pump up the gubernatorial candidacy of a politician in Minnesota, Tom Emmer, who has an infamous record of standing in the way of equality. Emmer has tried to ban gays and lesbians from raising children, attempted to take money away from HIV/AIDS organizations, and believes that minimum wage workers earn too much money.
To suggest a connection between the politics of King and the politics of Emmer would be laughable. Talk about rewriting history.
Perhaps it makes the most sense to end on a quote from MLK’s son, Martin Luther King Jr. III. Earlier this year, as a retort to Glenn Beck trying to claim the mantra of King’s legacy, MLK III wrote a piece in theWashington Post where he made it crystal clear what his father stood for.
“His dream rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry or discrimination, whether directed at race, faith, nationality, sexual orientation or political beliefs,” King Jr. III said. “He envisioned a world where all people would recognize one another as sisters and brothers in the human family. Throughout his life he advocated compassion for the poor, nonviolence, respect for the dignity of all people and peace for humanity.”
That’s King’s legacy. It’s also a sentiment that you won’t find within 200 feet of a National Organization for Marriage commercial.
Oh no they didn't!