70% of African-Americans voted to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry” (Prop 8)

After the elation of Tuesday night, the depression of this statistic I read last night:

As reported by the LA Times, exit polls find that seventy percent of African-American voters in California voted to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

A lot of Obama/Yes-on-8 voters? The Associated Press exit polls show that African Americans and Latinos backed Proposition 8 in good numbers. Details here from AP:

California’s black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, also provided key support in favor of the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Seven in 10 black voters backed a successful ballot measure to overturn the California Supreme Court’s May decision allowing same-sex marriage, according to exit polls for The Associated Press.

More than half of Latino voters supported Proposition 8, while whites were split. Religious groups led the tightly organized campaign for the measure, and religious voters were decisive in getting it passed. Of the seven in 10 voters who described themselves as Christian, two-thirds backed the initiative. Married voters and voters with children strongly supported Proposition 8. Unmarried voters were heavily opposed.

— Shelby Grad

One commenter to the LA Times story said:

As a Canadian I am blown away that your neighbour can decide your human rights for you. That just would not fly here at all. An inclusive and human-rights based society is the only one that will survive. How oppressive is your nation!! I am so sad for you.

Yes, we’re sad for ourselves, too. But, of course, for anti-gay voters, Jax’s statement would simply beg the question as to whether marriage is a human right (for anyone and everyone, in other words).

But, yes… very sad. So when I read this post by Thomas on Feministe, entitled “No, We Can’t,” I had to say I felt the same pessimism:

We always know it’s wrong, and we always do it again. From the Trail of Tears to Korematsu to Gitmo, from the sellout of Reconstruction to the about-face on marriage equality, we so often do the wrong thing. We’re always sorry … after the fact. But so often when we’re at the point of doing the right thing, we turn our backs and do the wrong thing.

I keep writing “we.” I have to tell my children that we fail, that we do the wrong thing. This is a representative government; a whole polity. We is not the United States of Blue States. We rejected secession, and buried 660,000 people to make all of us live under the same Constitution. We are Massachusetts, but We are Mississippi. We are Washington, but We are Missouri. And today We are all California. And We failed.

No We can’t.

But, again, I’m that pessimistic not so so much because Prop 8 passed. I think I’m KIND OF used to the back and forth of these decisions / propositions related to gay issues, over the last ten years. But I’m pessimistic because a majority of African-American and Latino voters voted to “eliminate” some other group’s rights.  That is deeply depressing.

But then it all just reminds me how much persuasion on this issue will have to be based on ethical and/or religious grounds, not on civic or democratic grounds. Too many people simply do not respond to the “civil rights” argument. For them homosexuality, as one commenter to this LA Times story said, “is just not right.”  And another commentor said that analogies to the civil rights movement were “disingenuous.”

So obviously any attempt to sway voters will have to argue on the level of morality and religion. Swaying judges and legislators, I would hope, I would think, is another matter. But for voters, American voters — gotta argue that homosexuality “is right,” not “it is a right.”  Sounds a harder argument, but it’ll work much better in the end.

Religion is not inherently homophobic. Religion is a rich mix of conservative and liberal tendencies, of institutional and prophetic voices. Right now really only the former of those sides is mobilized and vocal. There is another side. Another voice. And it’s just as spiritually and theologically powerful. More so, I’d say.

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2 thoughts on “70% of African-Americans voted to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry” (Prop 8)

  1. I think it’s always the way. Those who are oppressed need to shit on anyone who is below them in the scle of social acceptance. When the Irish started gaining they suddenly were anti-black…

    I dunno. I am just hoping that there’s noting racist built up in our queer communities because of this vote.

  2. Do you think maybe so many African Americans voted yes on prop 8 because Barack Obama said that he did not support same sex marriage in one of his debates?

    When he said that, I thought, “well, even if he does support it, if he said so he wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected.” Maybe I’m wrong about that, though. Maybe if he had taken a stand for it other people would have followed his lead.

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