Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Black, White, Gay Thing

I'll just say in advance that this post may be more unfocused than usual.  I've become interested in straight African American attitudes toward gay marriage, and here I'm trying to keep track of the links that I've been collecting.  I think this Slate article was representative of a lot of the post-Prop 8 coverage of the issue-basically that Black people had provided the margin of victory for Prop 8.  Just based on my own experience (as a white lady) talking to people about gay marriage, it's hard for me to see any strictly racial divide in attitudes.  It seems to me that Black and white folks break along the same lines-age, education, and religiousity.

From Pew, support for gay marriage by religious affiliation, and by race.  This polling shows more support for gay marriage among whites than Blacks overall, and that Black Protestants support gay marriage at higher rates than white Evangelicals, but at lower rates than white mainline Protestants.  This link goes to a long scholarly article from Gregory B. Lewis titled "Black-White Differences in Attitudes Toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights," published in 2003.

One of the post-Prop 8 critiques of pro-gay marriage strategies was that the state's predominately white gay advocacy organizations had done a poor job of outreach and coalition building with African American activists and communities.  In Maryland (with 30% of people defining themselves as AA), activists of all races seem to be learning from that lesson.  Unless something really crazy happens, MD will have a referendum on the November ballot, which will decide whether the legislature's vote on gay marriage goes into effect.

The two major local pro-marriage organizations are Marylanders for Marriage Equality and Equality Maryland.  MME has many videos from locally prominent people, including this odd video from
Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire).  I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes at these organizations, but from the materials they are putting out, it seems like most of the current action on gay marriage in MD is among African Americans reaching out to other African Americans.  [Edited to add this article from the Times about Black/Gay coalitions (and also mentioning the existence of Black gays).]

People have also been talking about the "Obama Effect" in Maryland since Obama's statement in support of gay marriage.  Public Policy Polling reports recent movement in the polls on gay marriage.  Rachel Maddow has analysis here.  While I don't want to ignore Obama's influence, I wonder if he isn't, at least partially, reflecting a larger cultural shift rather than driving that shift.

Some final links: a nice piece on the problem of Black/gay invisibility.  And a pro gay marriage statement from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber.

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