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Surprise! Black People Didn't Support Same-sex Marriage. Here's Why.

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Surprise! Black people didn't support same-sex marriage. Here's why.

Obama Supporters who voted against Proposition 8 have a lot to learn about the nature of the African-American community. Defeating racial intolerance by electing Barack Obama does not equate defeating homophobia, as far as African-Americans are concerned. According to exit polls for The Associate Press,”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.” The common argument, as expressed by one same-sex marriage supporter at a Chicago rally for Obama, that “People don't seem to realize it's all the same thing. An African-American being elected is all part of equal rights that also apply to the gay community.” The implication here smacks of a spiteful “Hey we elected your guy, now help us out” attitude.

But consider the African-American community objectively. Enduring years of economic hardship and institutionalized racism, you would expect they'd feel empathy for another disenfranchised group of people. But as Richard Thompson Ford, a law professor at Stanford University put it, “Sure, we could call two married men "husbands" and two married women "wives," but the specific role for each sex that now defines marriage would be lost. Widespread opposition to same-sex marriage might reflect a desire to hang on to these distinctive sex roles rather than vicious anti-gay bigotry. By wistfully invoking the analogy to racism, same-sex marriage proponents risk misreading a large (and potentially movable) group of voters who care about sex difference more than about sexual orientation.”

So my suggestion to those against proposition 8 is to look at this as less a personal attack, and more a reflexive response of a community that is heavily grounded in tradition. Another concession, is that the adverse socio-economic conditions and homogeneous nature of many African-American communities leaves very little room for discussing alternative lifestyles. The barbershop is not your local juice bar. Do the math and focus your energy on the Mormons.

- The Commodore

Photograph of gay pride demonstrators support Barack Obama in California by David McNew/Getty Images.