This sounds very familiar. The Washington Blade reports black gay activists in our nation's capitol "caution" activists who are determined to bring a marriage bill to Mayor Adrian Fenty's desk by the spring. The reason? Same-sex marriage activists "have not developed a strategy for winning support from black residents, who make up 56.5 percent of the D.C. population."
“There needs to be a discussion within the community with a diverse group of people to make sure there’s a consensus to move ahead with this,” said Darrin Glymph, vice president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest gay political group. “Then, if you decide to go forward, you need to reach out to the entire D.C. community, including the faith community and the African-American community.”
Glymph and other black gay activists pointed to the approval by voters in California of Proposition 8 as an example of a failed strategy for reaching out to minority voters. ... With blacks making up nearly 57 percent of the population in D.C., black gay activists said gay marriage supporters must redouble their efforts to reach out to blacks and other minorities in the District.
“I don’t know if we can obtain the allies to help us defeat a referendum in the District,” said Carlene Cheatam, one of the founding members of the D.C. Coalition of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Men & Women. “I’m not worried about our elected city government,” Cheatam said. “They are all supportive because they equate marriage rights with civil rights. It’s the general population that I’m concerned about.”
The majority of the council is behind a bill and the city's hottie and gay friendly Mayor Adrian Fenty says he will sign. But many gay activists—including many black LGBTs—do not see marriage as a priority and want Congress to grant the city full budgetary and legislative autonomy ... Under the city’s current home rule charter, Congress has authority to block or overturn any D.C. law and that would include a marriage bill.
The next step is a community-wide forum on December 11 to debate a marriage bill. Michael Crawford, the black DC gay activist who blogs at Bloggernista and Bilerico, is facilitating the event. Crawford wants diverse input and more black participation and admits gay rights activists do not have the infrastructure to oppose an anti-gay referendum to ban same-sex marriage in the District. "Getting it through the City Council and signing it into law by Mayor Fenty is only step one," Crawford says.
It's almost unbelievable that in a city that is overwhelmingly black, the gay marriage movement has failed to reach beyond city hall and include black businesses, churches, pastors and voters. After the disappointing No on 8 campaign, the racial blame game that followed and reports it ignored black LGBTSs and black voters, well, it isn't surprising. It sounds like Washington DC marriage activists need to move forward cautiously and reach out for broad support so that it isn't torpedoed by the city's powerful anti-gay black pastors, rejected by voters at the polls, or, vetoed by the Congress.
Black Activists Urge Caution on Marriage [Wash Blade]
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