Broadway and television star Audra McDonald says it is a 'wonderful thing' that President Barack Obama has come out in support of gay marriage in the US and believes other African Amercians should follow hos lead.
The five-time Tony winner sees little difference between the current fight for LGBT equality and the battle for civil rights in the 50s and 60s.
'To have Barack Obama come out and say he's finally evolved on the issue and say it should be equality for all, I just think it continues the civil rights tradition that we as African Americans have been involved with for many years,' McDonald said in an interview with BET.com this week.
The actress best known for her role on ABC's Private Practice and a stunning string of successes on Broadway, points out that one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous I Have a Dream speech was an openly gay man named Bayard Rustin.
'As African Americans, are we supposed to say, 'Thank you for helping us fight for our civil rights, we're not going to help you with yours?' That's wrong.'
For McDonald, who has legions of gay fans, that there is even a debate over same-sex marriage is simply wrong.
'Marriage, the way it is viewed in our country, it is a civil union,' she says. 'You do not have to be religious in order to be married - you just have to love someone and want to pledge your life to them and be recognized legally. Whether you choose to recognize it in a church or whatever, it's a civil union.'
'So for me, it's a civil rights issue,' McDonald adds. 'Denying people who want to be married the ability to be married because you don't necessarily agree with them, I think is wrong. It's civilly unjust.'