Now that proposition 8, the constitutional amendment retracting the marriage rights of same-sex couples, has passed, the parties on both sides of the debate will assess what their next steps should be. Regardless of the outcome of the California Supreme Court’s review of the constitutionality of the measure, one side of the debate or the other will carry on the fight. In the meantime, angry gay rights groups are wondering who their enemies are and thinking about revenge.
Much has been said about the impact of the high African-American turnout for Barak Obama and the exceptionally high number of those Obama supporters who voted to reject gay marriage rights. The argument has been made that proposition 8 supporters were deceived about the measure, but that just doesn’t wash. In fact, it’s rather patronizing to think that of all the persons who voted yes, a large proportion of minorities just didn’t know what they were doing. Probably the most painful aspect of the outcome for white gays wasn’t just the relative numbers who voted yes, but that their “friends” did it.
The truth is that the reasons for the high yes vote on Proposition 8 are complex and sometimes difficult to articulate. Conservative religious feeling, shame about sex and sexual mores which have been historically used to de-humanize African-Americans, economic resentments aroused when gays “gentrify” inner-city neighborhoods and drive them out, the notion that gays have hitched a ride on the civil rights train, all play a role in black resistance to the gay civil rights movement. It may also be true that African Americans are relatively covert and oppressed within their own community and, therefore, less effective in delivering a pro-gay message than are white gays in liberal communities. The negative attitudes are not universal, and are held more often by older African-Americans, but they are there.
For the white gays, who overwhelmingly supported Barak Obama from the outset, not Hillary Clinton, as some have suggested, there was shock and anger at the African-American support for Proposition 8. The African-American numbers may not have been the decisive, or even the tipping point of the loss, but that was not really the issue. White gays, without making any real analysis, just assumed they were going to get the Black vote. Did they canvas African-American neighborhoods? Did they have cadres of Black gays prepared to make an out reach in Black communities? Not for me to criticize because I didn’t participate. But probably not as much as they needed to, because the results came as a big surprise. If Black and other minorities are as invisible in the gay community as they are in the “straight” community, it’s easy to see how this could happen. Let’s see if their is more cooperation for the battle of 2010.
This Article in the L.A. Times is interesting although the political coverage of that newspaper has been despicable and biased.
My concern reading the article is that it suggests that the 1st Amendment right of free speech is under attack now from both the Left and the Right.
The Right, especially the religious Right, has always used group pressure tactics and the power of the boycott to force society to bend to its will-isolating and dehumanizing gays. Gays in the past faced ostracism, job loss, rejection from their families, and even physical harm if they were “exposed” by curious or hateful individuals within their communities. Usually, the heterosexuals, who weren’t affected or didn’t think gays mattered, didn’t care. A gay person had a hard time speaking up to defend herself or anybody else.
Now, it seems, gays have learned how to wield these weapons, too. They are going to expose and ostracize the people, who not only don’t agree with them, but have stripped them of their civil rights.
But there is another issue here. Now that the donations made for political causes are accessible to everyone, anyone can be ostracized for their political views. Everyone can lose his job or career. Maybe it’s payback. Maybe “they” should learn how it feels. But going too far can have unintended consequences. Let’s remember that we’re Americans first.