I regard the unfortunate passing of Proposition 8 as more of an age gap thing than a racial or specifically cultural thing as a whole. Exit polls and surveying based on age proved that those 30 and over were voting for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in bigger numbers, and those are the folks who hit the polls right now. The turnover as the current 18-29 generation (yours truly included) becomes 30 and over will be much better for overturning noxious crap like this in the future, but it’s still disheartening.
Considering those exit polls, it doesn’t make any sense to blame black folk for Prop 8’s passage. Yes, I’m really disappointed in the 70-30 split. I thought we’d survived and emerged after having our rights denied for centuries. How do we turn that around and vote to strip other people of their rights? It’s sad that we can’t see the irony in that; however, it’s not fair to lay it on black voters by forgetting to note that the only make up a little more than 6% of the state’s electorate. It’s really on older, more church-going white folk and the largely Catholic Latino population. Of course, we can’t forget the Latter-Day Saints funneling cash from Utah to fill the coffers and use scare tactics about children and religious freedom. Reprehensible stuff. Honestly, your preference to keep your children’s ears free from hearing about homosexuality end where other people’s civil rights begin.
But, I talked to a few family members in L.A., and they saw members from the black churches coming around and urging people to support Prop 8 — and there’s a bigger problem here. Yes, the conservative black, religious community has a homophobia problem; there’s a reason the “down low” has become a prevalent term. I don’t have a whole lot of choice other than to say the black churches ought to be ashamed of even being a minor part of this effort — they may legitimately believe that that Jesus rails against homosexuality in the Bible (honestly, he really doesn’t) — but someone ought to be smart enough to recognize that your pastor’s preference shouldn’t guide public policy. Black Pentecostal, Episcopalian, and Baptist churches were some of the moral centers when it came to helping urge people along in the Civil Rights movement, and to even hear of any members being a part of the Prop 8 debacle is rather infuriating.
However, the GLBT movement needs to do more outreach; the wide perception of “gay=white” is not helping it. Much like feminism, it needs social advocacy, analysis, and critiques of race, class, and economics in order to be viable to more people — and it has to help out with GLBT folks who are a minority within a minority.
It’s telling that the majority of the No on 8 campaign’s advertising did not specifically mention marriage or say the words “gay” or “lesbian”, they only talked about discrimination and taking away rights (save an early ad with two white parents and the one with Samuel L. Jackson narrating). This was reactive and an attempt not to actually discuss the issue. Ads directly tackling the fallacies in the Yes on 8 ads while talking about gay people and marriage rights would have been more effective. You don’t win by fudging the issue.