The president of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is reconsidering his future with the group after the national organization’s board of directors voted at its recent meeting to endorse same-sex marriage.
Reverend Keith Ratliff says he had no warning the issue was going to be part of the national board’s meeting.
“We were not sent out any information that this was going to come up for a vote at that particular May board meeting,” Ratliff says. “It was something that was brought up while people were there. I had other commitments so I could not make the May board meeting, but it was not anything we knew about ahead of time.”
Ratliff is also the pastor of the Maple Street Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, and was vocal in opposition before and after the Iowa Supreme Court decision that overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage.
“People pretty much know that…I am not in support of same-sex marriage. I think that the bottom line is that people can keep their own individual views on the topic,” Ratliff says. “I think there’s a lot of other issues that are before the NAACP, than to make same-sex marriage a topic priority issue that needed to be voted on at that particular meeting.”
Ratliff says there are things like the drop-out rate and the number of African Americans in prison that should be the focus of the organization. He most recently has been involved in speaking out on the discrimination case filed against the state by African Americans.
Ratliff is not sure yet if the national vote will cause him to step down from his post.
“I’m praying over the situation…same-sex marriage is not the only issue obviously that the NAACP deals with, the NAACP deals with a number of issues. I will continue to pray over the situation and I will decide if I’m led in the spirit what I individually plan to do,” Ratliff says.
The pastor says he is not the only one who is upset by the vote of the national board.
“I have received a number of phone calls from people who are upset over the fact that this vote came down the way it did,” Ratliff says. “There are obviously people who are certainly in support of it. But there are many people, the people who have called me, have said that they are really shocked that this has taken place, and that they don’t believe that the NAACP should be wrapped up in this particular issue.”
Ratliff is not sure when he will make a decision on staying in the NAACP post or leaving.