- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Luther King’s youngest child lighted a torch at her father’s tomb last month to kick off a march advocating a ban on same-sex “marriage,” creating a strong image linking the slain civil rights leader to today’s heated social debate.

But just nine months earlier, King’s widow defended the rights of homosexuals in a speech at a New Jersey college.

King never publicly spoke about homosexual rights while leading the charge toward racial equality in the 1950s and 1960s, but the clash over same-sex “marriage” has prompted people close to his legacy to pick sides and interpret how they think King would stand on the issue if he were alive.

Coretta Scott King often has invoked her late husband’s teachings while advocating tolerance and equality for homosexuals. Last year, she denounced the proposed national constitutional amendment to ban same-sex “marriage” in a speech at New Jersey’s Richard Stockton College.

“Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union,” she said in her March 23 address. “A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.”

Martin Luther King III and his mother invited homosexual groups to participate in the 40th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington.

But the Kings’ youngest child, Bernice King, helped lead thousands of people in an Atlanta march last month against same-sex “marriage.” Organized by Bishop Eddie Long and his 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, that march supported an amendment to “fully protect marriage between one man and one woman.” Bernice King, an elder in the church, repeatedly has declined interview requests during the past month.

Alveda C. King — niece of the slain civil rights leader, founder of the faith-based King for America Inc. and a vocal opponent of same-sex “marriage” — said she joined her cousin in the Atlanta march because she thinks her uncle never intended homosexual rights to be part of the civil rights movement.

“Bernice says herself that she knows deep within that her father did not march and did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage,” said Alveda King. “I don’t believe that people should be penalized for their affections, but we need to be clear on the purpose of sexuality and marriage, that purpose being procreation.”

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