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.