The L.A Times published an article from a black lesbian discussing the passing of prop 8
I am black. I am a political activist who cares deeply about social justice issues. I am a lesbian. This year, I canvassed the streets of South Los Angeles and Compton, knocking on doors, talking politics to passers-by and working as I never had before to ensure a large voter turnout among African Americans. But even I wasn’t inspired to encourage black people to vote against the proposition. (Jasmyne A. Cannick)
It’s especially interesting how she dispels the myth that the fight for interracial marriage was especially important in the civil rights movement. As far as weighing their concerns, interracial marriage didn’t rank particularly high when there were other concerns like voting, and unchecked violence to be handled. The illegality of interracial marriage was symptomatic of an unequal society and that particular feature would eventually need to be dismantled but it wasn’t at the forefront of the struggle. Cannick too suggests that for black gays, marriage is not necessarily at the forefront of their concerns.
The first problem with Proposition 8 was the issue of marriage itself. The white gay community never successfully communicated to blacks why it should matter to us above everything else — not just to me as a lesbian but to blacks generally. The way I see it, the white gay community is banging its head against the glass ceiling of a room called equality, believing that a breakthrough on marriage will bestow on it parity with heterosexuals. But the right to marry does nothing to address the problems faced by both black gays and black straights. Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?
Maybe white gays could afford to be singularly focused, raising millions of dollars to fight for the luxury of same-sex marriage. But blacks were walking the streets of the projects and reaching out to small businesses, gang members, convicted felons and the spectrum of an entire community to ensure that we all were able to vote.
Note: Feel free not to comment if you haven’t bothered to read any of the running commentary on Prop 8 occuring all over the blogosphere and you’re still buying into the concept that the smallest percentage of California voters could pass anything single handedly. (Seriously if you think 4%>96%, you’ve got bigger fish to fry, like conquering second grade math).