Black and Latino Voters Critical to Same-Sex Marriage Ban

November 6, 2008 at 6:06 am Leave a comment

gay-marriage-protests.JPGEven as African-American and
Latino voters were a powerful force in boosting America’s first black
president to victory, in California they also were crucial to passing
Proposition 8, a ballot measure labeled, “Eliminates right of same-sex
couples to marry.”


Exit polls showed that 70
percent of black voters, and a majority of Latino voters, voted yes on
Proposition 8, one likely reason why the measure won a slim majority in
Los Angeles County, where pre-election polls had suggested it would
lose, even though it lost by a huge margin in the Bay Area.

The
Rev. Amos Brown might have foreseen Proposition 8’s victory. As Brown
preached Sunday to his congregation that they should be mindful of
everyone’s civil rights when they voted on same-sex marriage this week,
a church member tried to wrestle away the microphone, agitated that the
preacher was discussing gay marriage in the black church.

Gloria
Nieto had a sense of those demographic forces, too. When Nieto, a lead
organizer for the No on Proposition 8 campaign in San Jose, wanted to
distribute campaign signs in Spanish and Vietnamese this fall, she had
to get them made herself because the statewide campaign only had signs
in English.

Those may have been two hints that Proposition 8 was
headed for Tuesday’s clear 5-point victory. The measure was one of the
most popular on Tuesday’s ballot, its 5.4 million yes votes helped —
not hindered, as many had predicted — by the large turnout to vote for Barack Obama.

Wednesday was a day of
rejoicing for the supporters of Proposition 8, a day of worry for the
estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June 16 and
Election Day — and a day of legal threats to get those marriages
nullified or the new constitutional ban thrown out.

But it was
also a day to ponder how the major statewide polls had been so wrong to
suggest that a big Obama win would doom Proposition 8.

“To be
honest with you, we were kind of fearing that a great outcome for Obama
would mean a defeat on Proposition 8, but we found out that
African-American people, they are very conservative,” said the Rev.
Nestor Morales, a San Jose pastor who helped organize Bay Area churches
to raise money for Yes on 8 ads in Spanish. “We found a lot of
Democrats voting for Obama and voting yes for Proposition 8. Even
Latinos, a lot of Latinos that voted for Obama, they also voted yes on
Proposition 8.”

In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom, appearing
at times exasperated and calling forth images of the civil rights
movement, told reporters that the ban had set back California morally,
legally and economically.

“Who would have thought in our lifetime
we would have an African-American president?” Newsom said. “I never
would have thought in my life I would see a constitution changed to
take rights away.”

Newsom declined to speculate whether
Proposition 8’s victory would hurt his bid for governor in 2010, but
said he did not regret his advocacy. “I have tremendous faith and
confidence about the future of this effort,” he said. “People want to
be treated to same. I’ll keep fighting for ’em.”

Just Tuesday,
Alice Huffman, president of the California State Conference of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sent a memo
to reporters forecasting that a large minority turnout would help to
defeat Proposition 8. Huffman was not available for comment Wednesday.

Brown
said that he had preached to his Third Baptist Church congregation in
San Francisco that African-Americans especially should remember the
connection between the Bible’s Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you
would have others do unto you” — and equal protection under the
Constitution. However, he noted, some people didn’t see gay marriage as
their issue.

“I think, to be quite candid, some people feel white
gay and lesbian people have not been with them on the issue of race,”
he said. “So (African-Americans) said, ‘Why should we be concerned
about them when they were not concerned about us?’ “

Oscar Dace,
senior pastor of the Bible Way Christian Center in San Jose, said it
may have rankled some African-Americans to hear civil rights for gay
and lesbian people compared to the civil rights struggles of blacks in
the 20th century.

“Many African-Americans are very conservative
when it comes to moral social issues. When it comes to the policy
issues they are somewhat liberal. They could see Barack Obama on one
hand and see the conservative, evangelical understanding on the other
hand,” he said.

Nieto, who is Latina, faulted the No on 8 campaign for not working hard enough to build ties to minority voters.

“The
LGBT community has not done a good job of having relations with people
outside of a white middle-class group,” said Nieto. Among the
leadership of the No on 8 campaign, “I could not find any evidence of
any African-Americans or Latinos that were on the steering group. Even
if it was one or two, that’s not good representation.”

It
particularly rankled Nieto that the No on 8 television ads showed very
few gay or lesbian people — an omission also noted by other critics.

“We
had no identity; we had no names,” Nieto said. “We were just this group
of people that the Mormons were painting as asking for special rights
and trying to make their children be taught about gay marriage in the
first grade.”

Many in San Francisco, however, were less than distraught about Tuesday’s historic exercise of democracy.

Esteban
Guevara, a gay man, stood by a “No on Prop. 8” sign made from miniature
decorative pumpkins, lichen and tree branches in a store window.

“It’s
sad, but we got what we really needed — we got a much better
president,” he said. “And this is just fuel. This won’t stop the gay
rights movement at all.”

Source: Mercury News

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Why Homosexual Marriage Was Defeated in California The World Reacts to Obama’s Big Win (Video)

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