Rev. Eric Lee
Rev. Lee Book Solidifies Stance Against Prop. 8
National SCLC at odds with L.A. president
Los Angeles Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) president The Rev. Eric Lee will be the featured guest at a private ceremony unveiling his self-published book “Marriage Equality: Proposition 8 The California Divide” a subject matter that has him and the National SCLC chapter at odds this week.
Last week the SCLC national headquarters, a prominent 50-year-old civil rights group founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., threatened to remove Lee from his post at the Los Angeles chapter for his support of same sex marriage, a heated California proposition that has divided the state and elevated national debate.
Lee, who has been president of SCLC of greater Los Angeles for two years, has been an outspoken advocate of Prop. 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that banned such unions by a narrow 52% of the vote.
He contends that he is upholding a Dr. King decree that states, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“As African Americans we can not just afford to speak out on issues that only pertain to Blacks. The growing demographics have changed that for us. We are only 9% of the L.A. County population,” Lee explained.
Prop. 8 was a statewide measure and was not voted on in other regions of the nation and thus Lee representing a California based civil rights organization had a responsibility to take a stand on it.
However, when it mushroomed into a national debate, and although the national SCLC has taken a neutral stance, nonetheless the group sent Lee a letter on May 27 demanding he attend a hearing on June 4 at its Atlanta based headquarters.
According to documents if he failed to show up he would be suspended or face removal from his post.
Citing the current economic climate and short notice, Lee suggested a conference call instead and did not travel to Atlanta for the June 4 meeting.
Exit polls indicated that a majority (70%) of Blacks were for Prop. 8 who banned same sex marriages in California. Lee who is straight and Black came out in support of it.
Rick Jacobs, head of Los Angeles based political action group Courage Campaign, applauds Lee.
“That was an extremely courageous thing for an ordained minister, African American, straight man to do,” said Jacobs who will be hosting Lee’s private book signing at his home.
He has also earned the support of Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, secretary of the California Democratic Party and Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti.
The SCLC of L.A. board members also are in firm support behind Lee.
National SCLC general counsel Dexter M. Wimbish and other leaders were not available for comment and calls to their Atlanta based office was not returned.
Lee’s position has , “created tension in my life I never had experienced with Black clergy.”
However, he felt it necessary, adding, “that any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have, that is a clear violation of civil rights and I have to speak up on that.”
And he is doing that under the umbrella of SCLC of L.A., no matter how unpopular it might be.