Martin Luther King Jr. died 14 months before the Stonewall Inn riots, which became one of the foundational points in the LGBT rights movement of the second half of the 20th century. But despite the fact that King didn't live to see the activism of the 1970s, the organizing prowess of Harvey Milk, the bravery and direct action of HIV/AIDS activists, or the struggles today of marriage equality advocates (to name a few faces of the LGBT rights movement), King's words have lasting legacy for the struggle for equal rights of all Americans. Below we'll include some of our favorite King quotes, and their relation to LGBT issues today. Got others? Feel free to let us know.
"A right delayed is a right denied." (How relevant is a quote like this in California, Arizona, Florida, as well as the dozens of other states that have passed laws denying marriage rights to LGBT couples over the past ten years?)
"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." (That's why the fight being led by Join the Impact, the Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality USA and millions of other LGBT activists will eventually win. Creativity. Innovation. Victory.)
"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." (Imagine King walking in the streets this past November, in the wake of Proposition 8's passage. You can almost picture him saying the same thing.)
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." (Perhaps PEOTUS Barack Obama should have read this quote in the lead-up to the vote on Prop 8, since his team remained largely silent on the issue.)
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." (That's why we need everyone, LGBT persons and straight allies, to stand together to push for equal rights.)
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." (Important words to keep in mind, especially in the wake of ballot measures that repeal or limit LGBT rights. Love temporarily defeated is still stronger than anything the American Family Association, or Pastor Rick Warren, or the Yes on 8 campaign can throw.)
And lastly, let's include a word from Coretta Scott King, who did live long enough to engage in the struggle for LGBT rights. She believed, like her husband likely would have, that the struggle for LGBT rights were civil rights, and that denying rights to LGBT persons (including full marriage rights) was a form of violence.
"Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection...A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."
These words from Mr. and Mrs. King? Now they represent change we can believe in.
Image via WikipediaThis is from Michael A. Jones over at Change.org's LGBT Blog: