by bruh3, Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 07:01:04 PM EST
by dontbuyit, Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 08:02:54 AM EST
People are justified is questioning why one oppressed group would so callously oppose the rights of another oppressed group, but those of us who have lived in California nearly all our lives are not surprised. Blacks have shown their contempt for gays at the ballot box before. Thirty years ago to the month, in November of 1978, gays faced a seemingly impossible fight against bigotry in the form of Prop. 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative. This initiative would have required the firing of all gay public school employees, as well as straight employees who said anything that could be construed as positive about gays.
The prospect of this proposition passing was terrifying to the gay community. Only two years before Anita Bryant had succeeded in getting a gay rights ordinance overturned in Dade County, Florida. Subsequently, the voters in numerous communities repealed their protection of gays as well. There were no state civil rights laws protecting gays at the time.
Gays in California were just emerging from the truly dark days before gay liberation. Up until 1971, gays were denied access to any profession that required state licensing. Among the professions we could not become were doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, even hairdressers. Bars and restaurants were forbidden to serve a drink or a meal to a known homosexual. After all, we couldn't have "those people" congregating. Oppression requires isolation. Many of those entrapped by the vice squad were sent to virtual concentration camps, such as the one in Atascadero, where they were held indefinitely and subjected to the worse forms to torture to "convert" them. They endured electroshock "therapy," castration, lobotomies, and other gruesome and hateful "cures." Police regularly raided gay bars and arrested their patrons, making sure that employers were informed so that the arrested gays would be fired.
These are only some of the reasons that the Briggs Initiative filled us with such apprehension. A week before the election the polls looked bleak, showing the measure passing by a 61 to 31 margin. Despite the efforts of the gay community, spearheaded by San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and many others, our cause seemed hopeless. Then what has been termed the greatest turn around in public opinion occurred and it was unquestionably attributable to one man, Ronald Reagan (God bless him, even if I did not agree with much of his administration.) Though Reagan risked alienating his conservative base at a time when he was planning his third attempt at securing the Republican presidential nominiation in 1980, he came out forcefully against Prop. 6 in an editorial in the now defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Reagan was a man of such stature that he singlehandedly changed public opinion without doing any damage to his political aspirations. The role of David Mixner, mayor Bradley's aide, and his partner Peter Scott should not be forgotten. They were friends of the Reagans and persuaded Mr. Reagan to publicly express his personal opposition. Mayor Bradley is also to be commended for his early opposition to the measure, but he did not have the ability to influence public opinion that Reagan did.
Overnight what looked like overwhelming defeat became an overwhelming victory. Prop. 6 was rejected by more than a million votes and even lost in conservative Orange County. However, the exit polls released in the L. A. Times after the election revealed one appalling statistic: whereas the initiative had failed by a nearly 60 to 40 margin, the African-American community had voted "yes" on this incredibly discriminatory measure by 60 to 40.
So, it is hardly surprising to see the African-American community stick it to us again, but the margin this time is even more appalling. Sympathy and understanding between blacks and gays seems to be going in the wrong direction. If Prop. 8 is not overturned in the courts and we must try to resecure our rights through the ballot box, there should be outreach efforts to all communities, including African-Americans. Just don't expect too much from black Californians. Our efforts and resources would be better spent trying to turn around the opinions of those groups that the exit polls indicated might be more persuadable: Whites, Asians and Hispanics. We did not lose by that big a margin and have a relatively small percentage of the population to convince to support our rights.
I do not blame the African-American community for our defeat, but the fact remains that if Black Democrats had voted similarly to White Democrats (4 to 1 against), Prop. 8 would have been defeated.
by slynch, Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 03:25:51 PM EST
Blacks and Gays
(First, let me apologize up front if this diary is not up to par. This is my first diary here, and aside from a single, brief diary I wrote at dkos during the primary season analyzing legislative records of HRC and BHO, I have never written a diary before. My writing style is probably atypical--I spend my days writing long and detailed academic papers for journals and so I'm having a little trouble being terse. In fact, I've already cut the goal of this diary in half because of its length; I'll write another one, if anyone's interested, later this week.)
by xodus1914, Sat Nov 08, 2008 at 05:18:55 AM EST
by Manic Lawyer, Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 06:32:55 AM EDT
I believe that the Clintons would like to do what's right with respect to gay rights. I believe that, if it were up to them alone, they would be in favor of gay marriage and gay adoption and full partner rights, emloyment and housing rights, etc. The problem is that it really is NOT entirely up to the Clintons, and they don't have a good record on the issue.
No sooner had Bill Clinton gotten elected in 1992 then he tried immediately to implement a policy of full gay equality of participation in the military. He believed he could accomplish this by executive order, forgetting that the US Congress also has a say in these matters.
The political right got together with military leaders like Colin Powell, and they rapidly built a solid wall of opposition to gay rights, mobilizing all of their forces. Those of us who supported Clinton had not been mobilized at all. We were not even informed beforehand that he was taking on this issue. He just sprang it on the nation and assumed that everyone would go along because he had been elected president (with a plurality of the vote).
And then Clinton was forced, by stiff opposition in the US Congress and a significant part of the public, to accept "don't ask, don't tell," which effectively reified the discrimination that existed before Clinton tried to do anything at all. This would have been like Johnson trying to open the lunch counters to Blacks and whites and then ending up with a legislative reiteration of Jim Crow instead. Yes, Clinton's heart was in the right liberal place, but she was utterly ineffectual at implementing her vision that time.
When you think about it, this is actually very similar to what happened with national health care. Hillary Clinton believed that she could design a complicated health care regime in isolation, and then all of the forces who opposed the plan would go along with it just because she said so. So, she didn't effectively work with Congress to find out what was politically possible or to obtain buy-in from the essential Congressional players.