The numbers are daunting: 70 percent of black voters favored the amendment to ban gay marriage. In comparison, the CNN exit polls report "55 percent of white voters and 52 percent of Hispanics voted against the proposition." 75 percent of black women voted yes on the anti-gay measure. Similar numbers are not available for black men.
The obvious reaction is to blame black voters for the measure's passage—and we're covering that angle for the next issue of The Advocate. But black voters only represent 6 percent of the electorate—that's only a very small piece of the pie—so you have to look at the entire jigsaw puzzle. Even if black California voters opposed the measure by similar margins as white and/or Latino voters, it still is likely to pass. The number of black voters are dwarfed by whites and Latinos. The question becomes, why did black voters overwhelmingly support this amendment and what can LGBT organizations do differently?
The first question can be answered by the many black pastors who supported this measure. Although the black community is moving from a prophetic-based leadership to a multi-ethnic political paradigm, the black church is still very powerful and many of the anti-gay pastors were ecstatic to lead this issue. Many of our churches are steeped in a fundamentalist tradition and homophobia and anti-gay sermons are quite commonplace. The second question has to be addressed by gay activists and LGBT organizations because the face of marriage equality remains largely vanilla. There was some outreach by black Hollywood against this measure—Mary J Blige headlined an event, Samuel L. Jackson and Magic Johnson voiced commercials, younger stars like Greek's Paul James, Girlfriends' Golden Brooks and Danity Kane appeared in PSAs. The black outreach was a last minute strategy—even an 11th hour robocall by Magic Johnson was, well, 11th hour. Those of us who are black and gay remained largely on the sidelines.
Did You Read ...
Anti-Gay, Black Pastors Use Children for Prop 8 [R20]
Blige, Etheridge Raise $3.9M for No on Prop 8 [R20]
"Noah's Arc" Cast Urges "No" on Proposition 8 [R20]
"Noah's Arc" Actor Doug Spearman, Black Ministers Urge "NO" on Prop 8 [R20]
SCLC Leader Criticizes Anti-Gay, Black Pastors [R20]