Prop 8: Mormon money and the black vote

While some supporters of Proposition 8, like the Mormon Church, are pointing to the black vote in California as proof that same-sex marriage is a moral issue rather than a civil rights issue, some blacks who support same-sex marriage are angered at being unfairly blamed for the passage of the proposition.

Two op-ed pieces in today’s New York Times examine controversies surrounding the two groups.

The editorial concerns the Fair Political Practices Commission of California’s investigation of the Mormon Church and whether it broke state laws by not reporting campaign-related expenditures. Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger filed a complaint, accusing the church of improperly funneling millions of dollars in contributions to the pro-Prop 8 campaign. If proven true, the commission could fine the church $5,000 per violation plus sue for additional money.

The opinion column by Charles M. Blow, who is black, takes on the issue of the black vote’s role in the passage of Prop 8. He begins by stating:

We now know that blacks probably didn’t tip the balance for Proposition 8… However, the fact remains that a strikingly high percentage of blacks said they voted to ban same-sex marriage in California. Why?

He puts forth theories based on CNN exit polling on Election Day and other reports from Gallup (tracking church attendance of blacks by gender, as well as three years of data regarding blacks’ views on moral issues;) and Child Trends, a nonprofit research center (tracking church attendance among black and white 12th graders.)

While stating that although blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, Blow says their moral views match those of Republicans. He thinks having the support of black women, who voted in larger numbers than black men, is key for same-sex marriage advocates and he offers a strategy:

  • Don’t compare “the struggles of legalizing interracial marriage with those to legalize gay marriage… Many black women do not seem to be big fans of interracial marriage either,” according to a Wisconsin Law Review study.
  • “Don’t debate the Bible. You can’t win.”
  • Focus on the dangers to society at large of “applying yesterday’s morality to today’s sexual mores,” linking black bisexual men hiding their sexual orientation to black women being the fastest growing group with H.I.V. infection.

Even with the Prop 8 fall out still swirling, we can hope continued healing of race relations will accelerate in the dawning age of Obama, and in ways that likely were unforeseen. If anything, the cultural war between liberals and conservatives in this country over the past 40 years appears to be nearing a decisive point as an older generation recedes and a newer generation rises up.

An awareness and cultivation of an evolving demographic was the bedrock of the Democrats’ rise in the election, but it was just the beginning. Now it’s time for gay rights advocates to catch up.

3 thoughts on “Prop 8: Mormon money and the black vote”

  1. “we can hope continued healing of race relations will accelerate in the dawning age of Obama” Chal.

    I don’t. The total nastiness that came out regarding this campaign shows me this country will never, ever let it go. First chance people get to paint ethnic minorities with one brush they jump right on it and then they won’t say sorry. The “we voted in Obama for you people and look what you did.” What kind of bs is that. And what’s up with this pretend objective moral high ground post? You went right for the “black people are all blah, blah” thing in the beginning, so stop acting like you didn’t do that and you are now just reporting what you hear. (What did you guys do have a meeting and decided you were going to be less jerky towards ethnic people, well you better go back and draw up a new plan.) It’s very insincere. And so what now, you want to have a discussion on black culture and how “we people” think on LA Metblogs…yeah right.

    You want have a real discussion on this, you probably should admit to your own biases. Yes you Chal, not gay people’s issues, but your issues. I know that there is a problem with homophobia in the black community (not anymore than any other group if you account for church attendance and education) but its there, but how can we do anything or discuss anything when you won’t even be real with your own views.

    I don’t appreciate people who look like me being pathologized everytime something goes wrong, just like I’m pretty sure you don’t appreciate it when it’s done to gay people, but the difference between me and you is that even though all of this crap has been said about people who look like me I still would never, ever write some veiled homophobic crap on my blog or any blog that I was part of.


  2. Interesting piece. And strategically, he’s probably right.

    I think overall what the gay community and its supporters need to do is focus on an even broader “education campaign” to dispel all the myths and falsehoods about homosexuality (its a choice, its a sickness, etc.).

    It won’t turn around everyone, but it may make some think through the issue again.

  3. Though I wouldn’t put it in that same language, I agree in part with what Browne has to say. Electing Obama proves only that we can elect a non-white president, and nothing more. The way everyone (not just the media – people in general) have interpreted this election steers dangerously close to conveniently allowing ourselves to be blind from the racism, sexism, etc -isms that still exists. Obama isn’t a panacea to all of our problems, and to use him as a convenient means of saying, “Hey, look, we’re no longer a racist country!!” – as some already have – is nothing more than an ignorant distraction. To now “not understand” how black voters could vote for Obama and for Prop. 8 in one breath is to reduce them into one massive, single-minded, simple voting bloc. That is a mistake that the gay community made before the election, and that Anti-8-ers are making after.

    The gay community, done with its scapegoating, is ready to move on to the larger issues at hand: education, education. And it has to be honest with itself, its own biases, and its own prejudices in order to be successful.

    The Mormons, though – that’s a different story. Hopefully the education and a better run campaign will overcome their message.

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