Blacks and Gays, Prop 8
by BPK80, Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 02:54:50 PM EST
Well, the results are mostly in and it appears that Prop 8 will end up passing, relatively comfortably. With 99% of all precincts reporting, we're down by about 500,000 votes.
Even with rumors of up to 3 million outstanding absentee ballots, it's not realistic to believe that kind of deficit will be overcome.
Given an LA Times poll showing whites rejecting Prop 8, Hispanics tying, and Black Californians supporting it overwhelmingly, there has been some pushback from the gay community and venting about the unfairness of us having gone to the polls to overwhelmingly support the first AA President, while they, in essence, defecate on our rights. One diary from Big Orange embodies this view at its most raw:
Viewed in that light, it does seem piercing and unfair, but I'm writing this diary because I want to help contextualize the voting results and reframe our perspective.
1. The "enemy" here is not the African American community. The enemy here is the Mormon church that wasted unprecedented gobs of money attacking California families.
2. A vote against marriage equality should not be read as underscoring some deeply held hatred for gays and lesbians, even though being on the receiving end of it can feel that way at times.
3. In general, the African American community is a deeply caring and compassionate community that would espouse traditional marriage for the "right" reasons, rather than for the "wrong" reasons. While I thoroughly disagree with the viewpoint, the motivation here is tradition and a genuine respect for a religious doctrine with which I happen to disagree. I cannot stress how dramatically different this is from people who oppose marriage equality for the "wrong" reasons. A vote against gay marriage is a vote of hate when it comes from the eternally tortured inferiority complexed Evangelical or sludge whites populating Appalachia, or the reigning queen of all hate states, Missouri. Missouri was the first state to "proudly" amend its constitution to ban gay marriage, in the wake of the 2003 Massachusetts legalizing it. It passed with a margin of victory that disgusted me, and clued me in on the fact that something was not right with that state. (Look at last night's results for instance and see how far in the gutter Missouri has gone, compared to the nation's average. It's +7% GOP, and much like Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia, I promise you this isn't because there are droves of well-meaning anti-tax Republicans populating the place--it's the HATE vote. Please let us write that state off in 2012. Please.)
In a place like rural Missouri, derelict whites (esp. males) have fallen behind in the game of life. They resent their urban peers who have trumped them in areas of finance, in education, in love, in happiness, in health, and everything. They resent women who have gotten ahead of them. They resent minorities who have gotten ahead of them. Their GOP votes have nothing to do with foreign policy or pecuniary self-interest. It's their valve of expressing just how much they envy and hate American cities, American progress, and every accoutrement of it, be it a vibrant artistic community, powerful women, true love, thriving universities, flourishing entertainment industries, unoppressed gays and Black Americans smiling and enjoying the day. It drives them nuts. Make no mistake--these are not happy people. They hate life and the unapologetic delight in all it has to offer.
By contrast, this is not what motivates the African American community in places like Los Angeles. For Black Americans, the belief in "traditional" marriage is genuine; it is not a pretext used to guise a seething hatred for gays or for American life, as it is in rural Arkansas.
4. Gays lashing out at African Americans is hurtful to progress.
On the losing end of every trend now and for the foreseeable future, the GOP will have no choice but to attempt to fracture the progressive coalition into factions. Wounded as we may be as GLBT's, attacking African Americans won't help anything now or in the long term. "How dare you! After how we supported Obama! How dare you!" Yes, it's tempting. But don't go there. This was not a vote of hate and an intra party rivalry will work against us. A vote of Yes on Prop 8 is a vote of adherence to tradition and some confusion thrown in there by the Mormon church. Whatever homophobia there may be in the culture, Black Americans do not have a fundamental HATRED of GLBT's. Whatever belief in tradition held by the black church community, these are not people who would knowingly vote to subject other Americans to the hate of oppression.
5. Reach out and educate. We need to be working with Black leaders, not against them.
The oppression of Black Americans was the most egregious civil rights abuse in our country. Don't ever try to deny it. Sometimes people like to fight over whose tragedy was bigger or worse. Don't play the game. Acknowledge the deep centuries long scars of oppression AA's have experienced. Be gracious. Yes, it sucks that the government has been in our bedrooms a lot recently, have been messing around with our rights, and society tried to keep us "hush hush." But we were never publicly and openly enslaved. We were never publicly lynched in numbers as disgustingly high as AA's. We were never actually denied the right to vote (if we were white and male), and if we were, it wasn't on account of sexual orientation. We were never constitutionally 3/5's of a person. Black leaders naturally become very defensive about attempts to compare civil rights abuses against gays to those against AA's. Let them have that claim. Acknowledge it. But from that point on, it's time to point out COMPARISONS between the civil rights struggles of minorities, women, and GLBT's, rather than CONTRASTS and come together to fight it in unison.
Please, I urge everyone not to read too much into the results of Prop 8. Do not misconstrue it as a hate vote; it isn't.
These votes are ripe for change. These are not the entrenched hateful rejections of American progress that stem from the jealous bowels of abandoned nowhere-villes. We need to engage Black leaders and encourage them to speak to their communities about the importance of equality for all. We need to remember that Black Americans are fundamentally GOOD people with whom we have much more in common with than in contrast. Reach out and integrate. We have a long battle ahead, but time is on our side.
Thank you for reading.