King's kin faulted for role in march

Daughter to help lead church rally today that opposes gay marriage

December 11, 2004|By Ellen Barry | Ellen Barry,LOS ANGELES TIMES

ATLANTA - The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will join a prominent Atlanta pastor today in a march that opposes same-sex marriage as part of a larger, church-centered empowerment movement. The event has been criticized by gay-rights organizations, which say it betrays the legacy of the civil rights leader.

King's widow, Coretta Scott King, has supported marriage rights for gays and lesbians, as have civil rights figures Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, and Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The "Reigniting the Legacy" march, to be led by King and Bishop Eddie Long, will begin at the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Organizers said they expect 100 pastors and 10,000 marchers to participate.

Long, whose New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has 25,000 members, said his goal was to re-establish an authoritative voice for the black church on a variety of issues - including school choice, affordable health care and "wealth creation" for minorities.

"There has not been a unified voice out of our community since the assassination of Dr. King," Long said. A strong segment of society, he said, "want to go back to basic, fundamental moral beliefs."

Gay-rights advocates are well aware of Long's opposition to same-sex marriage. Still, Chuck Bowen, a spokesman for Georgia Equality, said he was surprised to learn about the march.

"I think it's very sad. I think he's abusing the good name of Dr. King and the work he did creating equality for all Americans," Bowen said.

Rosalind McGinnis, managing director of the King Center, said the site was public property and that the organization was "not endorsing, nor are we affiliated with, Bishop Eddie Long in any way."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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