Ted Chen and Sergio Lelevier
Gay rights are an awkward topic for the NAACP. And an appearance by Comic Wanda Sykes may have made some attendees squirm at a panel discussion in Downtown L.A.
"I didn't have to 'come out' black," offered comic Wanda Sykes Monday during a speech at the NAACP annual convention.
It's a remark that has probably brought chuckles from many audiences. But this is a convention at which many people have ties to African-American churches that don't recognize same-sex marriage.
Sykes is a hero to gays and lesbians, and her audiences are usually friendly. But here at the NAACP convention, there were no guarantees.
Just down the hall was a lunch for religious leaders whose churches largely oppose same-sex marriage. Sykes legally married her partner before Californians passed Proposition 8.
But just across the convention hall, two Los Angeles church pastors stood firm.
"Our denomination doesn't allow clergy to participate in marrying same-sex couples," said Reverend Henry Masters of Holman United Methodist Church
"At our church, we believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," said the Rev. Harlan Jones, of Phillips Temple CME Church.
If nothing else, Monday's panel showed a willingness to talk about an issue that once stayed firmly in the closet. But there were still a lot of empty seats.