Case Study: Same-sex Marriage & the African American Community

  1. If your students have included same-sex marriage on their list of contemporary civil rights/social justice issues, circle it on the board.
    Add same-sex marriage to the list on the board. Ask your students:

    Do you think this is a civil rights issue?
  2. Explain that there have been questions about whether or not this is a civil rights issue and that question, as well as the issue itself, has presented certain challenges to the African American community. We're going to explore this issue by listening to an interview and reading a newspaper article that present different views on the topic.
  3. Hand out the Same-sex Marriage & the African American Community Document Study, which includes the transcript of an NPR interview with Congressman John Lewis and a Washington Post article "Racial Pawns in the Battle for Same-Sex Marriage," and make sure audio is set to play the NPR interview audio.
  4. Have a student read aloud the introduction about Congressman Lewis.
  5. Ask your students to think about the following questions while listening to the interview:
    • What was John Lewis' experience with discrimination?
    • What are Congressman Lewis' views on Gay and Lesbian marriage? Why does he feel this way?
    • Does he think that this is an issue with which African Americans should be concerned?
  6. Play the Podcast clips (1:19-3:43 and 22:02-25:06 – see Note to Teacher). Have your students follow along with the transcript. Stop the audio at any point if you feel it would be helpful to define a term or clarify a point.
  7. After your class has listened to the John Lewis interview, break them up into small groups of no more than 3 or 4 students.
  8. Have your students discuss the questions about what they just heard. Remaining in their groups, students should then read and discuss the article "Racial Pawns in the Battle for Same-Sex Marriage," also included in the Same-sex Marriage & the African American Community Document Study.
  9. When all the groups have finished discussing both documents and the reflection questions, have them come back together as a class. Ask the following questions (give anyone the chance to answer who wants to answer, but do not require every student or every group to share their discussions):
    • How are the Lewis interview and the Harris article similar and/or different? How does each use the Civil Rights Movement in his arguments?
    • To what extent do you think same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue? What kind of criteria would you use to determine if this issue or others are really civil rights issues?
    • Based on what you've learned by studying Jews in the Civil Rights Movement, and on the material presented in these documents, do you think a group's experience with persecution/oppression in the past should make us expect more from them in support of another group's fight for justice in the present/future? If possible, support your argument using material from today's lesson and/or previous lessons.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Case Study: Same-sex Marriage & the African American Community." (Viewed on May 19, 2024) <>.