Friday, November 7, 2008

Stop Blaming California's Black Voters for Prop 8


This also appeared on the Huffington Post.


Excuse me? I voted against Proposition 8. I'm among the 30 percent of black Californians that did so. And as much as I can condemn the homophobia and intolerance that drove a portion of the 70 percent of blacks that voted in favor of Proposition 8's ban on gay marriage, it's an outrage to lay its passage at their feet. I've read several editorials already about how the ungrateful blacks betrayed gays right after America gave them their first president. I know there are some wounds and frayed nerves right now, but this type of condescending, divide and conquer isn't going to help at all. And it's a gross oversimplification of what happened.

According to the exit polling, there's enough blame to go around. Don't forget the 49 percent of Asians who voted for Prop 8. And the 53 percent of Latinos who fell in line for it too. And then there is the white vote in support of 8. Slightly under 50% percent of them, a group representing 63% percent of California voters, voted "Yes" on 8. Last I checked blacks held little sway over all of those groups.

So who did? For starters, the churches, religious leaders and advocacy groups in support of 8 were a very formidable force. Surveys showed religion played a major role in voter's decisions. Even No on 8 supporters have admitted that their camp was too complacent, arrogant and far too unorganized. I told a friend the day after the election, that I thought the arguments needed to be much stronger to answer the lingering questions Prop 8 boosters had leveled, disingenuously or not. Even I had some personal misgivings before casting my vote against.

Perhaps gay rights activists needed to better explain how a No vote wouldn't force churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies. And how a No vote wouldn't affect schools or teach children about gay marriage. Maybe deeper outreach in the black and brown communities could have changed some minds. What about fostering a stronger dialogue beyond the good side of town and in the neighborhoods where some of the unfortunate prejudice takes root?

No on 8 also needed a better defense against Obama's own stance on gay marriage. He is on record as wanting to allow the states to decide, even though he still supported full rights for same sex couples under civil unions. It's clear that anybody hoping to get elected this year needed a position that was generally acceptable to the red states. And Obama came out strongly against 8. But those nuances could have been much better explained to those who might be excused to follow suit with Obama's somewhat loose position. The anti-Prop 8 forces couldn't just rest on the hope that entrenched and arcane beliefs would be washed away without both a robust defense and offense.

In the coming weeks, those of us who are standing against Proposition 8--including, I'm sure, millions of blacks nationwide--are all going to need unity as we lobby, fight and advocate for either a reversal of this amendment or a new battle in 2010. There are very valid arguments against the presumptuous collapsing of Obama's win and the results of the Prop 8 vote, but we can table that for now. Regardless of your position, making scapegoats of blacks as a bunch of thankless homophobes is hardly playing the best hand.

42 comments:

John Mark Rozendaal said...

Without making a blame game, it is interesting to note who did what here. It is interesting to notice the trend in black voters because one might hope that Barack Obama has standing to speak persuasively to this demographic about this issue. I hope that he will be willing to do that.

I wish that I knew who could address the Christian ideologues of all colors who really made Prop 8 happen.

Raymond Leon Roker said...

Amen and agreed. I hope Obama does speak out or dispatch somebody too if it's a tricky first term move (remember Clinton's gay military debacle). I have spoken out for close to 20 years on the subject, but it's ironic that I now feel a bit on the defensive.

Kathryn said...

An even bigger question is why there tends to be a trend of homophobia within the black (and brown) community and, just as relevantly, such racism among the gay community. Now I only speak of my experiences with small groups of course. I cannot generalize my experiences with the gay community in Virginia and of the black community in NY to which I am referring (mainly Hip Hop music industry types)and wash it over as the norm. However, it is appalling to me and unacceptable that any group who has seen such great oppression in their lifetimes, would help perpetuate any further oppression on another. Mincing the scale on which this struggle is measured is moot. All in all it's another sad realization that this country still has "closeted" bigotry for such a progressed nation, even amongst those who have suffered the most from it.

Headless Steve said...

Obama came out strongly against 8?

...His repudiation of Prop 8 could not have been any more lukewarm. "It's unnecessary" is not exactly a strong condemnation.

But yes... The blame-game is counterproductive, and as we seek to make inroads with the California electorate, I think we will find black voters much more willing to hear our message than other social-conservative blocks. So, this scapegoating is really just shooting ourselves in the foot.

Liz Cho said...

KPCC did an hour-long program inviting African Americans who voted for Prop 8 to call in, and I found that utterly irresponsible, especially because I felt the contextualization was inadequate.

This is definitely a teaching moment.

Clinton visited Bryn Mawr to campaign on behalf of universal healthcare (since Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, the Congresswoman from that district, had voted in support of it despite her constituents' opposition). At that time, there were a cluster of LGBA (no trans at that time) student activists held a demonstration less than 6 inches from the walkway he took. I guess one of them must have said something that he found unable to let pass because he turned around and said to the student, "Bullshit!" and sternly indicated that his support of gay rights at that time would have been tantamount to an open invitation to the right wing to undo all gains made by LGBs.

I felt similarly about Prop 8. The timing was unfortunate.

CreoleInDC said...

As a Black, hetero, married woman, I'm with you on this one all the way.

Seriously.

Excellent point of view. EXCELLENT!

ItsBiffy said...

So much misdirected anger. As a white gay male, I am ashamed at the comments and vitrol seething out of so many blogs. I really appreciated seeing your words thim am.

Immortal Spaces said...

You made an interesting point about churches (or other religious institutions) fearing that they would be forced to have to perform same-sex marriages. "Perhaps gay rights activists needed to better explain how a No vote wouldn't force churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies."

In Canada, under the Civil Marriage Act, that extends the right of marriage to same-sex couples, s.3 states: "It is recognized that officials of religious groups are free to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs."

Canada's history of same-sex marriage is instructive. Various court challenges across Canada were launched in the early part of the decade resulting in decisions by provincial courts of appeal (these are the Canadian provincial equivalents of a state supreme court in the U.S.) that ruled that the common law definition of marriage, defined in traditionally heterosexist terms, violated the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Rather than challenging the decisions to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Government of Canada (then under the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Paul Martin) decided to propose legislation in accordance with the various court decisions (in Canada the definition of marriage is a federal matter). In this way, same-sex couples could marry across the country while religious institutions would not be forced to perform religious ceremonies for them.

Perhaps in a future ballot proposition, there could be an attempt to recover the right to same-sex marriage (assuming present legal challenges don't work) while preserving a religious institution's right not to perform them.

jasmine said...

Actually, it seemed that there was some considerable confusion on what Obama's stance was. In fact, after watching the Vice-Presidential debate, it appeared as though Biden stated that they were against gay marriages.

I think the confusion came from the fact that they didn't really want to take sides on the issue, which is a position that I do understand.

When Prop 22 passed 8 years ago, it did so by over 61%. Prop 8 uses exactly the same verbiage as Prop 22, but this time it passed by a narrower margin (around 51%, last I checked).

What this suggests to me is that this is an issue of social change, which takes time. But it is happening.

The statistics you cite are unhelpful and damaging; indeed, I really don't see this as a racial issue at all, but a moral and religious issue.

And let's face it, the California coast is very different than the rest of the state.

UCLAdy04 said...

Silly Raymond...didn't you know that EVERYTHING wrong in this country is the fault of Black people? We make up 6% of the population in California, yet we are the ones to blame for this...nobody else, just those evil Blacks!

Raymond you should've seen this one coming. I opposed Prop 8, but deep down in my heart I knew that at the end of the day the Gay community has ZERO problem throwing us under the bus and demonzing us and boy was I proven right. We were already getting demonized before a single vote was cast. But you know what...it's a lot easier for them to point the finger at US rather than at their own White brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, friends, and coworkers.

If they want to blame us, then more power to them. They can get in line with the rest of the people who blame all of the world's ills on us. I wish the gay community well in obtaining the rights that I believe they deserve but since Blacks are evil and homophobic I guess there is no point in me even trying to help out.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog post and very well spoken. This should be a unifying factor for the LGBT community. There is much work to be done and they can not make it work unless they are will to go directly to the belly of the beast and talk to those who might vote against them. They have to be willing and able to step into a church and have their voice heard. Even though the minister might have the ear of the church goer at the end it's really up to that person. And if they told their story effeitivly then maybe the outcome would have been slightly different.

Global Wire said...

All this racial/religious divisiness doesn't advance the discussion, and it is unfortunate that some in the gay and black communities to go down this route.

Whatever anyone thinks about it, same sex marriage WILL became legal and accepted throughout the United States within the next 20 years. Same sex marriage is really a generational issue. Statistically, the younger a person is, the more accepting they are of gay lifestyle. More people than ever knows someone - a friend, a family member, a coworker, etc - who is openly gay because more gay people are coming out of the closet and at younger ages. Most schools today have gay/straight clubs and gays are visible in most parts of popular culture today. Because of this, as the younger, more liberal/open-minded folks become the majority of the voting block in a few years and there will be some monumental legal changes with same sex marriage very soon.

Furthermore, when you look at the age demos for who vote for and against the California proposition, it was divide on age.

Hey, just a couple of years ago no one thought we would have a black president, so those of you who are angry about the Prop 8 decision need not fret; same sex marriage could be just around the corner.

Anonymous said...

I live in Indiana who's son is gay. I feel California Prop 8 shouldn't have been on the ballot in the first place.

Any civil rights issue does not belong a ballot for the public to vote. Imagine if they had a Proposition "something" on the ballot in the late 1800's. Would the public voted to free the slaves...especially in the South?

As a black woman, shifting the blame on one community is not cool. For starters, those lawsuits that was filed this week is a start.

I hope the adjunction will go through because, like stated earlier, Prop 8 shouldn't have been on the ballot.

Anonymous said...

It is not homophobia and in most are not blaming Black voters. In fact most of America is praising African, Asian and Hispanic america for having the audacity to go against the Liberal Elitist mantra and be associated with the evil white Christian element.Liberal elites are dumbfounded that "these people' are out of their control.Any chance you will call them bigots?

Sagacious Joy aka Dee Galloway said...

I don't blame Black voters or White voters or Asian voters. I blame Californians of all ilks who helped create an this unprecedented revocation of human rights in the United States of America. I blame these Californians who clearly have no sense of decency, no access to compassion, and no understanding that they have just made it possible for other fascist ideals to flourish in the United States. Thanks so much for squashing the promise of President-Elect Obama has been speaking.

jefepolitic62 said...

Part of the problem may lie in the fact that some of the spurious charges regarding the gay community and its potential inroads into education (for example) were not so spurious. You can find on their own websites, methods in which students can be forced to take "tolerance" classes without informing parents and without the option of withdrawal. I was on the fence wondering what to do. I know my gay friends would not push for such a thing, unfortunately my gay friends aren't the entire community and are not the ones pushing the agenda. I sadly voted no because I saw a roadmap I disagreed with.

jefepolitic62 said...

Part of the problem may lie in the fact that some of the spurious charges regarding the gay community and its potential inroads into education (for example) were not so spurious. You can find on their own websites, methods in which students can be forced to take "tolerance" classes without informing parents and without the option of withdrawal. I was on the fence wondering what to do. I know my gay friends would not push for such a thing, unfortunately my gay friends aren't the entire community and are not the ones pushing the agenda. I sadly voted no because I saw a roadmap I disagreed with.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. You're saying that whites share the blame because "slightly under 50% of them" voted yes? Did you fail math in middle school? If less than 50% of them voted yes then that means THEY VOTED AGAINST IT, retard. Same goes for Asians. They voted against it, and you are trying to blame them for it? All the other races were at or near 50%. African Americans were 10% of the voters, and 70% of them voted yes. 70 FUCKING PERCENT. No other race came close to that. If you want to blame someone else, blame Republicans, or blame conservatives, or blame voters over 65. But trying to spread the blame to other RACES is just lying.

Shadowbrook Smith said...

No one is blaming you. It is simply interesting to note that black people vote overwhelmingly against gay marriage. That's all.

These are the first kinds of cracks that will begin to show up in the new Democratic coalition. Undisciplined people who are overly sensitive about being "blamed" for being on the wrong side of an issue are going to lash out. Grow up. Part of being a Democrat is going to have to include having to learn how to be in power. We must learn how to take responsibility for the things we are responsible for and let the things that we are not responsible for roll off our back.

Black voters are going to have to face the music about their inability to see the parallel between their struggle and the fight to be able to express love towards someone of the same gender in the same ways that heterosexual couples can. This is simply a fact. This does not mean however that you are being blamed for the defeat of Prop 8.

danielle said...

unfortunately i've heard accounts of people accidentally voting Yes on 8 because they were "for gay rights," not realizing fully their confusion over yes vs no. i don't think this confusion accounts for the 500k vote discrepancy, but i wonder what percentage of that number were people who accidentally voted incorrectly. being "pro no" or "anti yes" on 8 seemed to be an issue for various people (so i've heard) as well as public speakers making blatant mistakes and being quoted as promoting "yes on 8" on tv when they meant no. sigh.

anyway, i agree that religion played a major part. it's a sad realization that hard core religious fanatics feel they have a right to impose their beliefs on a matter that affects another group negatively and affects their group none. isn't that a sin?

BloggerLar said...

We should be using the exit polls to tell us where we need to build bridges. It's counter-productive in the extreme to be lobbing blame-bombs across a divide that we MUST bridge.

Better to be thinking: "How do we educate this demographic? Who has the access and legitimacy within these groups?

If Obama speaks persuasively, that would be terrific; he's a wonderfully persuasive speaker. But "all politics is local." We need to be talking about this in all of our communities, not waiting for someone to speak for us on the national stage.

Raymond Leon Roker said...

@Bloggerlar--Thank you for your succinct and thoughtful plea. I agree wholeheartedly. Besides being less divisive, it's downright more effective.

Curmudgette said...

This is a terrific post. Thanks. Shanikka, over at My Left Wing broke this down shotgun style. She really did an excellent job of parsing the stats and demonstrating that, no, black people did "stab gay people in the back." (Just one of the more hideous comments I've read.)

Curmudgette said...

anonymous said...

"African Americans were 10% of the voters, and 70% of them voted yes."

Neat trick, considering that blacks only make up 6.2% of the state of California.

Shadowbrook Smith said...

Oddly, Obama's statement about the court on Public radio that was used against him fits this issue perfectly. The comment was about Brown vs. the Board of Education and judicial activism. Obama suggested that while a case could be made for making sound court cases out of these things the courts are not designed for it.

Obama believes in a bottom up approach as opposed to a top down approach. What the courts tried to do in California is to overturn the will of the people. From Obama's logic, it would be better if those who want gay marriage would seek first to pursuade the population of their case reather than having the courts impose it on them. All politics are local. Rather than trying to impose our will on others, we can seek to change their minds first. Once their minds have been changed the courts can go back to the business of what they were designed to do. Interpretation and implementation of sound law, brought about through the will of the people; through referendum. An organic approach to change is better than one that is imposed on us.

Anonymous said...

Raymond,

I appreciate that you voted No on 8, but come on. 70% is completely different from anything near 50, and what happened in those voting booths was an unconscionable, small-minded and, let's face it, hostile act. you don't do that if you have the faintest perspective on civil rights or any kind of an open heart. it is time for the black population of California to look inward and recognize the HUGE problem this culture has with issues of masculinity.

Raymond Leon Roker said...

It's arrogant to say that everybody who stands against gay marriage is 'hostile'. They may be ignorant. They may be intolerant even--but to blanket all as hostile is just showing your intolerance for other's convictions as well. Folks can be religious and hold convictions that you don't agree with, and you'd make a better case to understand that and try to convince and educate instead of dismiss and disengage.

Secondly, the black community knows it has issues with hyper-masculinity. The black community is the one locked up, murdered at alarming rates, abused, etc. Thanks for the concern--as it pertains to your interests only.

Lastly, this is what really irks me: Are blacks alone in this regard? Are there not hyper masculine and homophobic habits in all classes, races, cultures? Are you for real, because of a 20% difference, you're singling blacks out, beyond Asians, whites and Hispanics?

Ask yourself why blacks rate son high on your list of detested groups.

Anonymous said...

Curmudgette said...

"Neat trick, considering that blacks only make up 6.2% of the state of California."

They were 10% of the voters. Check the exit poll.

Adam said...

It is very true that many factors are to blame for prop 8 success. And you point that out very well. So I agree that the black community should not be singled out for the passage of prop 8. However, stats also argue very well that the African-American community has a significantly greater prevalence of bigotry/homophobia. It seems that over time, other groups have made reasonable progress on dealing with bigotry/homophobia. I don't blame black people for the passage of prop 8. But I do blame them for perpetuating this homophobia in their community. Although we can all be quite disappointed in the unacceptable percentage of whites and latinos that continue to exercise bigotry, we can, nonetheless, point to the gradual improvements that whites and latinos have made in reducing bigotry in their communities. Shamefully, African-Americans show no progress. They seem very content with the status quo of their bigotry. Now, this they do need to be blamed for. All groups may need to be challenged on their own degree of bigotry, but the black community is way behind in meeting their responsibility on enlightening their community and contributing to social justice for all. It's so ironic that the one group of people that knows a hell of a lot about equal rights is so behind on this. So as we blame the black community, let us make it a constructive blame that will yield unity and change.

frank said...

Mr. Roker,
Thank you for having the courage to at least espouse a near neutral and insightful critique of the recent 8 debacle.
Unlike most of the gay community, who would rather call us stupid, ignorant or bigoted, you have addressed one of the biggest reasons most PEOPLE in Califronia voted for 8.
I will attempt to state why there was a reverse Bradley effect to Prop 8. From the viewpoint of a: Married, straight, moderate democrat, Catholic, 33 year old college sophmore.

Most people in California and the rest of the U.S. still believe in some sort of deity, no matter how ambigious it might be. We want to protect that right with the same tenacity that homosexuals,(who should have the same rudimentary rights), advocate.

What most straight people are begininning to sense is that tolerance and acceptance are no longer viable positions. Live and let live is no longer good enough. We must now, ouselves believe in, endorse or advocate to the will or viewpoints of secular or homosexual ultra-liberal America.

This postion of a "winner take all" mentality comes from five nacent instances.

1. The field trip to a lesbian wedding. This just the same as a trip to a church has no place in public schools.

1a. The state of Mass. telling parents they have no right to object to ideological homosexuality being taught to elementary school kids. (A Prince marries a Prince) Why, because its the law there!

2. The very hubris statement: "whether you like it or not...." helped polarize people like myself to vote
for 8. I can love you like my brother, no matter what you believe in, as long as I have the to protect my beliefs.

3. The lawsuit against Dr. Benitez when she refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian. Even though she offered a referral to a doctor that would and offered to pay the difference. The lesbian couple did such, delivered and then sued the doctor.
Isn't this insinuating that now Dr's with religious convictions will either be excluded from practice or be forced to suppress their belief set? Isn't that the defintion of an oppressed minority group and the very thing homosexuals stand adamantly against?

4. The Catholic Chuch having to shut down one of the oldest adoption agencies in the U.S. after it was sued by a gay couple under the exact same circumstances as above.

5. The condemnation by the S.F. City Council during session of the Catholic Church for its refusal to broker adoptions to gay couples.

The above referenced instances caused a great deal of concern for the average middle of the road voter.
The underlying concern was the erosion of our beliefs and the concern for our kids. We felt if we didn't stand up now, in the future our beliefs would be decimated. To us the gay community has launched a winner take all campaign, not a battle for equal rights. They have shown this by suing people, launching vituperous assaults from a governement pulpit and not adovacating moderation but insisting on capitulation.

Prop 8 opposition groups failed to adequetly defend these transgressions. Why? Many thought that they couldn't, because that was their goal the entire time.

Both sides need to come together and broker an acceptable accord for all. Polar right and polar left should produce an acceptable middle of the road compremise.

1. Remove the word "marriage" from government.
2. Allow everyone to obtain "domestic partnerships"
3. Protect Churchs from having to act against thier belief set.
4. Teach homosexualtity in schools from a biological postion not a idealogical position.

Do this next time and I'll vote for the gay community and so will most of California.

frank said...

Mr. Roker,
Thank you for having the courage to at least espouse a near neutral and insightful critique of the recent 8 debacle.
Unlike most of the gay community, who would rather call us stupid, ignorant or bigoted, you have addressed one of the biggest reasons most PEOPLE in Califronia voted for 8.
I will attempt to state why there was a reverse Bradley effect to Prop 8. From the viewpoint of a: Married, straight, moderate democrat, Catholic, 33 year old college sophmore.

Most people in California and the rest of the U.S. still believe in some sort of deity, no matter how ambigious it might be. We want to protect that right with the same tenacity that homosexuals,(who should have the same rudimentary rights), advocate.

What most straight people are begininning to sense is that tolerance and acceptance are no longer viable positions. Live and let live is no longer good enough. We must now, ouselves believe in, endorse or advocate to the will or viewpoints of secular or homosexual ultra-liberal America.

This postion of a "winner take all" mentality comes from five nacent instances.

1. The field trip to a lesbian wedding. This just the same as a trip to a church has no place in public schools.

1a. The state of Mass. telling parents they have no right to object to ideological homosexuality being taught to elementary school kids. (A Prince marries a Prince) Why, because its the law there!

2. The very hubris statement: "whether you like it or not...." helped polarize people like myself to vote
for 8. I can love you like my brother, no matter what you believe in, as long as I have the to protect my beliefs.

3. The lawsuit against Dr. Benitez when she refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian. Even though she offered a referral to a doctor that would and offered to pay the difference. The lesbian couple did such, delivered and then sued the doctor.
Isn't this insinuating that now Dr's with religious convictions will either be excluded from practice or be forced to suppress their belief set? Isn't that the defintion of an oppressed minority group and the very thing homosexuals stand adamantly against?

4. The Catholic Chuch having to shut down one of the oldest adoption agencies in the U.S. after it was sued by a gay couple under the exact same circumstances as above.

5. The condemnation by the S.F. City Council during session of the Catholic Church for its refusal to broker adoptions to gay couples.

The above referenced instances caused a great deal of concern for the average middle of the road voter.
The underlying concern was the erosion of our beliefs and the concern for our kids. We felt if we didn't stand up now, in the future our beliefs would be decimated. To us the gay community has launched a winner take all campaign, not a battle for equal rights. They have shown this by suing people, launching vituperous assaults from a governement pulpit and not adovacating moderation but insisting on capitulation.

Prop 8 opposition groups failed to adequetly defend these transgressions. Why? Many thought that they couldn't, because that was their goal the entire time.

Both sides need to come together and broker an acceptable accord for all. Polar right and polar left should produce an acceptable middle of the road compremise.

1. Remove the word "marriage" from government.
2. Allow everyone to obtain "domestic partnerships"
3. Protect Churchs from having to act against thier belief set.
4. Teach homosexualtity in schools from a biological postion not a idealogical position.

Do this next time and I'll vote for the gay community and so will most of California.

Anonymous said...

>>It's arrogant to say that everybody who stands against gay marriage is 'hostile'. They may be ignorant. They may be intolerant even--but to blanket all as hostile is just showing your intolerance for other's convictions as well. Folks can be religious and hold convictions that you don't agree with, and you'd make a better case to understand that and try to convince and educate instead of dismiss and disengage.

Secondly, the black community knows it has issues with hyper-masculinity. The black community is the one locked up, murdered at alarming rates, abused, etc. Thanks for the concern--as it pertains to your interests only.

Lastly, this is what really irks me: Are blacks alone in this regard? Are there not hyper masculine and homophobic habits in all classes, races, cultures? Are you for real, because of a 20% difference, you're singling blacks out, beyond Asians, whites and Hispanics?

Ask yourself why blacks rate son high on your list of detested groups.

---

When ignorance and intolerance leads you to actively strip the rights of another group, that is the definition of hostility. I find it appalling that you would defend such behavior by citing religious beliefs, as if any belief system can warrant injuring another population. If you want to call my resistance to bigotry an act of "arrogance," so be it.

You have also accused me of self-interest, but in truth I have no interest at stake here other than my belief in a principled and humane California. I am straight and married, but it breaks my heart that many of my friends, black and white, cannot enjoy the same recognition and fulfillment this word brings.

Believe me, I am not laying the passage of Prop 8 at the feet of black people alone. There are homophobes, bigots and intolerant people of every race and creed, and those of us disappointed by this decision have plenty of frustration to go around. Point me toward a major blog post defending such behavior among any demographic and I'll fire away. But for now, your truly absurd conflation of 70 and 50 rates the highest on the bullshit scale, so you get the attention.

Buffalo said...

The black community deserves criticism for this proposition like every other demographic that supported it. Right now, it seems like they're getting singled out for blame, but I think that's caused as much by so many people trying to excuse that specific community from criticism. The elderly, Catholic, and Mormon votes aren't hot topics because nobody expected anything different from them. With the black community, you hear excuses like they didn't feel like we reached out to them, or they didn't like the comparison to their own civil rights movement, or that the polls were inaccurate (even though they showed the same result in Florida and were completely accurate with every other part of the election). Frankly, the excuses don't cut it. None of those warranted this vote.

And saying African-Americans were such a small minority and didn't affect the outcome of Proposition 8 isn't going to help either; the gay community isn't going find reconciling with black community any easier if they're homophobic and irrelevant. Besides, there are even fewer Mormons in California, yet nobody seems eager to exempt them from responsibility for Prop 8.

I don't think the relationship between the gay community and black community is permanently damaged, but we all have to at least be honest in recognizing that a real problem exists, and we have to see some serious effort made on both sides to fix it.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

In order to understand this situation, we must discuss the broader history of the two groups - and I mean white gays and lesbians and black heterosexuals. When people "blame" (and to the poster who says "no one is blaming blacks" you are dead wrong) blacks for this, they certainly do not mean black gays and lesbians. When blacks say "their" struggles are not like ours, they certainly do not mean black gays and lesbians. So, this is a pissing contest between white gays and lesbians and black heterosexuals.

Exit polling companies usually do not get good sampling of gay voters, but many white gays have supported GOP candidates (think: Log Cabin Club) and voted for issues such as affirmative action, ending bilingual education, etc., which harm people of color. HRC endorsed Republican Alphonse D'Amato, but people still attended the "black-tie dinner." This issue will not go away until black heterosexuals and white gays deal with their respective homphobia and racism.

FYI: I have written about issues of race and sexuality extensively in my professional writing -- and more recently, on my blog. Here's a link to a recent post on Prop 8. Enjoy. http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2008/11/black-californians-and-proposition-8-is.html

Anonymous said...

Frank, could you explain how gay marriage threatens your right to believe in a deity?

Of your 4 suggestions, I think 1 and 2 would solve a lot. But how are churches 'having to act against their belief set'? (#3). And what do you mean by teaching "Teach homosexualtity in schools from a biological postion not a idealogical position?"

Surely you understand that churches exist in a legal context, and cannot interfere with equality before the law. The catholic church is not being infringed upon in any way that I can see.

Nobody is proposing that your church be forced to marry gay people. That is one of the outright lies that were being spread in MA. Fortunately people saw through the misinformation.

Raymond Leon Roker said...

To Anonymous, et al--If people want to believe that blacks voting (presumed from unscientific exit poling) 70% for Prop 8 is so inherently more evil than the whites voting 49%, Asians 49% and Hispanics 52%, the that seems to be the problem. If that 20% triggers something in you to demonize the black community, then you need to look inside yourself. Because what you're saying is that the black 70% is less acceptable than the white 50%. Wow. Really? Wow.

Secondly, facts are facts, and even if 100% of the black people in California had voted for Prop 8, it still wouldn't have passed without all the other 'groups' playing their part. Until whites, Hispanics and Asians come around in a majority collectively, gay marriage will remain banned if brought in front of the electorate. Do the math.

Adam said...

It is very true that many factors are to blame for prop 8 success. And you point that out very well. So I agree that the black community should not be singled out for the passage of prop 8. However, stats also argue very well that the African-American community has a significantly greater prevalence of bigotry/homophobia. It seems that over time, other groups have made reasonable progress on dealing with their share of this bigotry. I don't blame the black community for the passage of prop 8. But I do blame them for perpetuating this homophobia in their community. Although we can all be quite disappointed in the unacceptable percentage of whites and latinos that continue to exercise bigotry, we can, nonetheless, point to the gradual improvements that whites and latinos have made in reducing bigotry in their communities. Shamefully, African-Americans show no progress. They seem very content with the status quo of their bigotry. Now, this they do need to be blamed for. All groups may need to be challenged on their own degree of bigotry, but the black community is way behind in meeting their responsibility on enlightening their community and contributing to social justice for all. It's so ironic that the one group of people that knows a hell of a lot about equal rights is so behind on this. So as we blame the black community, let us make it a constructive blame that will yield unity and change. But make no mistake. This is an opportunity to challenge the African-American community on their bigotry and hypocrisy over equal rights.

Anonymous said...

To Frank who posted this: "What most straight people are begininning to sense is that tolerance and acceptance are no longer viable positions. Live and let live is no longer good enough."

Isn't divorce the biggest real threat to the family in our culture? It damages kids who go through it, and it ties up our court systems with the fallout. As a Catholic aren't you threatened since it is so widespread? Doesn't the prevalence of divorce prevent you from exercising your religious freedoms?

And how is this different from gay people?

Anonymous said...

Man-On-Man Realtioships seem a constant for men of color on the 'DOWN LOW' or 'BEHIND BARS'.

Then, Consider The Religous Funders and Voters Of YESON8 at the following webistes, & these are just a few of thousands of these type of site that expose religious dirt :
http://www.rickross.com/groups/polygamy.html

http://www.truthandgrace.com/polygamy.htm

http://www.necronomi.com/magic/satanism/Christian-abusers.txt

www.republicansexoffenders.com

http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.com
_______________________
Now, why do you oppose CIVIL RIGHTS?

Zoe said...

I have mainly heard people talking about the role of black voters in prop 8 in terms of ways that the no on 8 campaign FAILED to reach out to ALL californians (ie those first two weak sauce ads with the white people sitting around their kitchen tables in suburbia).

It's ridiculous to blame black voters for prop 8's passage, but isn't it legit to talk the fact that they backed prop 8 more strongly than other ethnic groups? and to talk about how/why the groups like equality california need to do a better job reaching out to them in the future, and addressing some of the real concerns you mentioned? I agree that the people spouting about rates of homophobia are out of line - a vote doesn't distinguish between ignorance, intolerance, religious conviction and simple misinformation.

I've been at several no on prop 8 events, and I haven't seen any of the racism people keep talking about.

To uclady who said "I wish the gay community well in obtaining the rights that I believe they deserve but since Blacks are evil and homophobic I guess there is no point in me even trying to help out."
I know this is sarcasm but seriously? This suggests you think most glbt folk hold the divisive view cited in this article. We all need the strength to push past the outrageous blame game of a few and work towards equal opportunity for all.

Curmudgette said...

Anonymous said...

Curmudgette said...

"Neat trick, considering that blacks only make up 6.2% of the state of California."

They were 10% of the voters. Check the exit poll.

November 8, 2008 5:46 AM


The exit poll is wrong. (Gee. That never happens, huh?) It's all explained right here.

Jennifer said...

Maybe this is just me, but...

1) If my group was projected to vote 52-58% for something and actually voted 70% for something, I'd want to see more than a CNN exit poll that polled a whopping 2,240 - especially when my group makes up NO MORE THAN 10%.

2) If I had a message that apparently didn't register with 70% of a group, I'd go back to the drawing board and wonder where the hell did I go wrong.