The New Black

The ballot initiative for same-sex marriage that was put to Maryland voters in 2012 supplies the narrative frame for this revealing study of the conflict between LGBT activists and black Christians. “This is the unfinished business of black people being free,” declares Sharon Lettman-Hicks, one of the gay black women trying to whip up popular support for marriage equality in the state. Director Yoruba Richen seems to agree, but he respectfully entertains the point, made repeatedly by gay-marriage opponents, that the institution of the African-American family has been assaulted badly enough already by drugs, crime, poverty, and racism. The movie points out that no less a civil rights lion than the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth condemned gay marriage when it came before voters in Cincinnati; he doesn’t come off as badly as President Obama, who’s shown doing a complete 180 on the issue between 2008 and 2012.