Morgan Freeman Backs Gay Marriage in New Video, Evokes Civil Rights Comparison

Actor Morgan Freeman has put his famous voice behind same-sex marriage in a new 30-second ad that hails the recent victories for gay advocates and compares the movement to the civil rights era.

"Freedom, justice and human dignity have always guided our journey toward a more perfect union," Freeman says as the video shows images of the civil rights movement and its leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Now, across our country, we are standing together for the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry the person they love. With historic victories for marriage, we've delivered a mandate for full equality."

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, who is behind the ad, issued a statement along with the "Dawn of a New Day for Marriage Equality" video, stating:

"As we continue the march toward full equality in legislatures and the courts, it is crystal clear that the prospect of an equal future is no longer up for debate; the question now is how soon it will arrive," Griffin said. "While we celebrate today, we will keep fighting until full equality has reached every single person in every corner of this vast country."

The ad mentions the recent victories for gay marriage advocates in Washington State, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, where voters decided on Election Day in November to legalize the practice, joining seven other states. It was the first time a voter referendum backed gay marriage, as it had been rejected in all previous attempts.

Before the General Election on Nov. 6, Freeman also made a popular video extolling the virtues of President Barack Obama, who went on to defeat his GOP challenger Mitt Romney by a comfortable margin in the polls. Obama has said that his position on gay marriage has "evolved," and back in May he voiced his full support for its legalization.

Conservatives in the U.S. have strongly opposed comparisons between the civil rights movement and gay marriage, however. Earlier this year, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, publicly denounced any attempt by gay rights activist to compare the two movements.

The June resolution, titled "Same-Sex Marriage' and Civil Rights Rhetoric," served as a response to President Obama's affirmation of gay marriage.

"This was a specific statement regarding the use of rhetoric that we find to be a misappropriation, certainly with people who read a lot of history that talks about the godly Christian influences of the Civil Rights Movement," said Kevin Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., and Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In either case, gay marriage remains a hotly debated issue in American politics, and the Supreme Court will meet on Friday behind closed doors to decide which cases related to the issue it will take up. Among them is Proposition 8, the controversial California bill that banned gay marriage in 2008. The Supreme Court's course of action will have far-reaching consequences for gay marriage, and it has the power to ban or legalize it nationwide.

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