As seen in the election review post and various comments I’ve been leaving around the blogosphere, I’m sick of the blame game going on in regards to the passing of Proposition 8 in California. I don’t believe civil rights should be on the ballot. I mean have Americans ever made reasonable decisions when asked the first time to grant civil rights? Remember slavery? womens suffrage? black suffrage? interracial marriage? divorce? abortion? Yeah, Americans don’t make the right decisions about these things. It really shouldn’t be left up to them to decide if a marginalized group gets to be treated like humans. However, despite the fact that 100% of those who voted for the measure don’t believe gay people should have the same right as straight people, some have decided to blame the passing of the measure on black voters. According to exit polls, about 70% of black voters voted for proposition 8. 49% of whites, also 49% of Asians voters, and 53% of Hispanic voters also voted for the measure. The first thing that apparently sprung to mind was that the higher percentage of blacks voting for the measure indicates a higher level of homophobia and further–that they’re not grateful for whites electing Obama.
There is little examination going on in regards to the no on Proposition 8 campaign. That the Mormon funded yes on Proposition 8 heavily targeted minority groups and churches, ran more ads, and spent more money in general is not considered in this assessment. We can break down the theory about how this sort of divisiveness erases gays of color and again demonstrates the problems of ignoring minorities until you need them for something, ignoring them in your campaign, and then blaming them when it fails, until the cows come home.
I’d like to focus for a moment on the logisitics of this blame. The numbers I cited above are from CNN, gathered via exit polling. Exit polling is not a trustworthy source as noted in the general election. We have no idea if they are close to being accurate, far from it, or somewhere in between since its dependant on the type of people who volunteered to be polled. What we do know is that there’s no random sample. We also know that there will not be a racial accounting of the votes since disclosing your race is not a part of the voting process. In California, it’s not even a part of voter registration. While there’s a box for race/ethnicity, registrants are told to leave that box blank. We know blacks are about 6.7% of the California population. How many of them are registered voters? Of those, how many voted for Prop 8? Just from a poll point of view, it’s just sloppy. According to CNN you may as well blame voters over 29 while you’re at it.
You know who’s responsible for prop 8 passing? People who allowed themselves to be controlled by fear, misinformation, bigotry, hate, and a disbelief in the inherent humanity and equality of all people. To top off the whole thing, much of these ugly feelings are spurred by churches that preach that homosexuals are sinners and sinners aren’t worthy of pity lest you yourself also be damned. We have people who believe that homosexuality is a choice because otherwise they’d be forced to say that God made a mistake. So instead they chose to believe that homosexuals are homosexual just to irk them and they could change if they wanted but being gay is just so much fun. They honestly believed that if gays could make medical decisions for their partners, churches would disintegrate and children would be taught how to be gay in between spelling lessons. They really thought that gay marriage would end the world as they knew it. When given the opportunity to stop it, they did.
Blame, and racially motivated hate can’t cancel out the hatred and intolerance that led to the passing of proposition 8. The only thing that could combat it is enlightenment and money with which to distribute it. The margin was close, and there were many voters who didn’t take a stand at all on the issue. Instead of thinking up strategies to reach out and educate, people have begun to lash out, notably at another marginalized group that they thought should be more helpful. It’s a mirror of the feminism issue. When we race these issues, turning them into whites only affairs implicitly by the lack of outreach to minority groups, we set this shit up from the start. You cannot expect to call on people when its convenient and ignore them in all of your other efforts–people don’t work that way. Perhaps minorities don’t see why they should suddenly take up arms for groups that ignore them and marginalize their existence. This backlash completely erases homosexual blacks–as if they don’t get enough of that from blacks too. Homophobia is a problem in the black community, it’s not an off limit topic. However, black homophobia didn’t put proposition 8 on the ballot, it didn’t fund its advertising campaign and it didn’t pass it. Whites put it on the ballot, whites funded the propaganda that got it passed. Homophobia in general is responsible for this. Continuing to marginalize groups that are already marginalized within the gay rights movement isn’t the way to go unless you want to make sure you never get minority support in which case–carry on.