Proposition 8 in California passed last Tuesday. The proposition overturns a recent California Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriage by ammending the state constitution to say “”Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This was heartbreaking news for many LGBT people across the country. We wondered how one group could make so much progress while another took such a huge step back.
Then the news came that California African American voters, who’d overwhelmingly supported Obama, had voted in favor of Proposition 8 70% of the time. I was so hurt when I heard that. Why would people that understood discrimination vote to take away civil rights from an entire group of people? Especially when exactly the same arguments were used to deny interracial marriages until the late 1960s:
1) First, judges claimed that marriage belonged under the control of the states rather than the federal government.
2) Second, they began to define and label all interracial relationships (even longstanding, deeply committed ones) as illicit sex rather than marriage.
3) Third, they insisted that interracial marriage was contrary to God’s will, and
4) Fourth, they declared, over and over again, that interracial marriage was somehow “unnatural.”
Los Angeles resident and Rod 2.0 reader A. Ronald says he and his boyfriend, who are both black, were carrying NO ON PROP 8 signs and still subjected to racial abuse.
Three older men accosted my friend and shouted, “Black people did this, I hope you people are happy!” A young lesbian couple with mohawks and Obama buttons joined the shouting and said there were “very disappointed with black people” and “how could we” after the Obama victory. This was stupid for them to single us out because we were carrying those blue NO ON PROP 8 signs! I pointed that out and the one of the older men said it didn’t matter because “most black people hated gays” and he was “wrong” to think we had compassion. That was the most insulting thing I had ever heard. I guess he never thought we were gay.
Responding to ignorance and hate with ignorance and hate makes the situation a lot worse. And in this situation, people were alienating members of their own community.