Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele recently debated MSNBC’s John Heilemann about comparisons between same-sex and interracial marriage, arguing that people who are black have a significantly different experience from those who are gay because of the visibility of their identities. Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher followed up with Steele about this interview, and Steele explained that though he still opposes marriage equality, he supports “full privileges and benefits” for the LGBT community:
STEELE: I’ve been very supportive of gay rights activists… I do not support gay marriage because of my own religious tenets and my faith tradition, but at the same time I do believe in making sure that gay individuals have full privileges and benefits, whether it’s insurance and health and all the other things that couples would have in a relationship, and I would argue the same for heterosexual couples. I don’t understand why you have a man and a woman who live together for 7, 8, 10 years, whatever, why they can’t enjoy the same type of benefits.
Despite this concession, Steele did not back down from his point that many African Americans object to their own oppression being compared to the plight of the LGBT community. Listen to an excerpt from the interview:
In his discussion with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on MSNBC yesterday, The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart argued that African Americans might not fully understand the LGBT community’s struggles: “It’s an issue of whether — if I were to get married to my partner and we were to have children, that my children would have the same protections that your children have because you’re able to legally marry… In that regard, we’re talking overall [about] a civil rights issue and what African Americans continue to struggle with is exactly what lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are struggling with today.”