's Desperate Anti-Equality Gambit: Driving A Racial Wedge

In its latest effort to undermine marriage equality, hopes to drive a wedge between the gay rights movement and African-Americans. It's a strategy the anti-equality movement has attempted before and ignores increasing African-American support for marriage equality.

On February 25, Breitbart published two articles hyping an effort by a conservative coalition of black pastors to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder for “attempting to impose same-sex 'marriage' throughout the nation.” Holder encountered withering right-wing criticism after telling state attorneys general on February 24 that they were not obligated to defend their states' marriage equality bans if they deemed them unconstitutional. However, Holder told the attorneys general that their decisions on the matter should be based on legal analysis, not policy preferences.

Breitbart's Taheshah Moise amplified Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) President Bill Owens' declaration that the gay rights movement is “not a civil rights movement; it's a civil wrongs movement”:

Owens said the idea to start the [Holder impeachment] petition began after Obama's 2011 decision to stop defending DOMA, which eventually was overruled. The pastors of the CAAP believe Obama's decision to champion the gay rights movement as a civil rights movement is a gross misapplication.

“They are trying to stand on the backs of real civil rights characters that stood up for what they believe regardless of who they were dealing with. I detest [the Obama administration for] calling it a civil rights movement. It's not a civil rights movement; it's a civil wrongs movement,” Owens said.

Owens' organization is a front group for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group that explicitly worked to foment animosity between “gays and blacks.” Internal NOM documents leaked in 2012 uncovered a concerted strategy geared toward stoking African-American opposition to marriage equality. “The strategic goal of this project,” a 2009 document stated, “is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks - two key Democratic constituencies.”

In Breitbart's second article touting the Holder impeachment campaign, Susan Berry also touted the work of Owen's CAAP, heralding "[t]he rising ire of a national coalition of black pastors":

The rising ire of a national coalition of black pastors reached a climax Tuesday as the organization announced a campaign to call for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder on the basis that he has violated his oath of office by “attempting to impose same-sex 'marriage' throughout the nation...”

According to a press release, the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) said it will “launch a grassroots effort seeking to secure the signatures of one million people calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to be impeached.”


In a scathing address at the National Press Club on Tuesday announcing the petition, Owens said, “In my lifetime, I've never seen a president as bad as this president.”

Breitbart might fantasize that Owens' coalition portends mounting African-American resistance to marriage equality and fissures within the progressive coalition, but such fantasies bear no relationship to reality.

In 2012, CAAP attempted collect 100,000 signatures for an anti-marriage equality pledge. It barely mustered more than 1,000. Likewise, while CAAP has set a goal of gathering one million signatures for Holder's impeachment, Moise noted that it's gathered fewer than 7,000 so far.

The failure of the anti-equality right's racial wedge strategy comes as polls show growing African-American support for marriage equality. A November 2012 Gallup poll pegged African-American support for the freedom to marry at 53 percent; a poll taken after President Obama embraced marriage equality found that 59 percent of African-Americans shared his position.