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JIC Post:By Katrina JacksonAssociated PressBlack leaders, including those in the church, have an obligation to oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in South Carolina, the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, chief operating officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said Saturday."This is not about sexual orientation or about a lifestyle, this is about fairness and equality," Nelson said during an event sponsored by the South Carolina Progressive Network.Around 200 people attended the group's Democracy Day event, which focused a variety of topics including immigration, education and same sex marriage."Equality is what we must stand on. We cannot be afraid and surrender the higher ground for moral principal," said Rivers, who encouraged the crowd to see the debate as a civil rights issue.The position could put Rivers in conflict with some black church leaders who think marriage should be only between a man and a woman.Voters will decide in November whether the state Constitution should be changed to ban same-sex marriages.State law already bars same-sex unions, but supporters say a constitutional ban is needed because a court ruling could trump the law and force South Carolina to recognize same-sex unions from other states.Those who oppose it feel the amendment will deny gay Americans their rights.Ohio has not been able to prosecute domestic violence cases in same-sex partnerships since they passed a similar amendment, said Donna Dewitt, co-chairwoman of the South Carolina Progressive Network."Also, recognizing insurance for the partners has been a problem in that state. So it is an amendment that will impact families," Dewitt said.Brett Bursey, director of the state Progressive Network, said the group has launched a campaign to educate the public on the implications of the amendment."It's a mean-spirited, get-out-to-vote ploy," said Bursey, "I don't think many people understand what the amendment will do. It's discriminatory against families."Rivers, who also spoke on immigration and education, encouraged the crowd to fight against all forms of discrimination, including that against Hispanics and the poor.He says discrimination is the reason South Carolina requires only a minimally adequate education."I think they intentionally don't educate all their children," Rivers said, "And I think the motive is race, economics and greed. The three of those become a grand conspiracy against the public schools in this state."Jim Campbell, 80, traveled from Charleston to attend the event. He said America is a country of immigrants and should not create laws to "keep people out.""It's like the country doesn't learn," Campbell said. "It has a congenital experience with African Americans as the first undocumented workers who were brought here against their will. Now at this stage of our history they're saying they want to kick people out."America's greed and selfishness often overcomes its policies and principles, Rivers said."America has benefited from God's good graces, from a land rich in natural resources," he said. "But instead of showing God honor by honoring his land and his people, America is a greedy and selfishness nation. But democracy is more than a slogan."
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