CLINTON — Alexander Robinson strives for equality.

Ever since growing up in Richmond, Va., in the 1960s as a black child to being called “different” in grade school, Rob-inson has endured labels.

Now almost 50 years later, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition is starting to see change for same-sex couples, just like he witnessed during the Civil Rights movement — albeit one state at a time.

With Maine Gov. John Baldacci signing same-sex marriage legislation on Wednesday, five states currently acknowledge same-sex marriage. Iowa is one of the five, and Robinson continued his statewide tour Wednesday at La Feria Restaurant in Clinton to discuss the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling on marriage’s definition.

“We want to build relationships through party lines, race and sexual orientation,” Robinson, who lives with his husband in Baltimore, Md., said. “It’s not about African Americans, Hispanics or women; it’s about justice.”

Robinson’s organization, the NBJC, looks to bring equality to black gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. The NBJC is America’s only black gay civil rights organization.

As a leader in the group, Robinson said he not only attempts to discuss equality with citizens with different mindsets toward politics, but also religious leaders. One of those leaders, the Rev. Keith Ratliff from Des Moines, was outspoken against the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling. Robinson said he would like to meet with Ratliff about the issue during his trip to Des Moines today. However, as of Wednesday, Robinson had yet to hear back from Ratliff on the proposed meeting.

“My goal would be to discuss his (Ratliff’s) position and ways in which we could move him off his opposition,” Robinson said.

As president of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Ratliff’s position does coordinate with the NAACP’s national position, Robinson said.

During California’s push for Propostion 8, which ultimately changed the state’s constitution to eliminate same-sex marriage, the NAACP did not endorse the measure.

“Since the court has ruled on this issue, and he is associated with the NAACP and they’ve been against constitutional amendments in other states, I’d see if we can’t have him as more a spokesperson for this issue,” Robinson said. “As a person who has stood up for civil rights and racial justice, I’m not wanting them to change religious views or accept gays and lesbians into their church.

“What I am saying is that discrimination shouldn’t be written in the constitution, and that gay and lesbian couples should be free to marry.”

During the event, Robinson discussed the differences between civil unions and marriage, the possibility of the case being brought before the Iowa Supreme Court again and adoption.

Robinson said civil unions would “create something equal, but separate,” while limiting adoption to heterosexual couples would not be in the best interest for children.

The scenario would be unlikely for the same-sex marriage topic to be brought back to the Iowa Supreme Court, Robinson said.

Former Iowa Representative and former gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon also traveled with Robinson, promoting his I’m for Iowa movement. Fallon discussed the implications of a constitutional convention and how long it would take for a conventional amendment to happen.

“The only option (for detractors) is to amend the constitution and it’s not as easy as it is in California,” Fallon said.

At the earliest, a constitutional amendment for marriage definition could be placed on a ballot in 2012, granted the measure passed two general assemblies.

“With a constitutional convention, it would be wise if we encourage opposition,” Fallon said. “With (a convention) amendments can bypass the general assembly and get on the ballot quickly.”

Citizens will vote on whether Iowa will hold a constitutional convention in 2010. Robinson will finish his Iowa tour tonight in Des Moines.

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