Last Friday night I experienced the realization of one of my “bucket list” targets. I have always wanted to be a guest on Larry King’s renowned program. Joy Behar led the evening discussion instead of the bespectacled, suspender-wearing, television and radio icon. The subject matter: California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment designed to protect marriage.
The gay marriage activists interviewed on the program used their time to minimize the crushing defeat they received once again at the hands of the people of the nation. Fortunately, the California victory for pro-traditional marriage reversed the decision of a vigilante court that had undone the previous popular vote of an entire state. This decision marks the end of an era and the end of a way of thinking about gay marriage. This election demonstrates the final defeat of the inane argument that gay marriage is an extension of the civil rights movement.
On Tuesday November 4, the nation was shocked that all three marriage amendments on the ballot in Arizona, California, and Florida passed. Polls and pundits alike were betting on the gay community and their massive ground game to defeat social conservatives’ efforts to protect marriage.
A second major surprise was that the marriage amendments won because of the moral stance of black voters. Exit polls confirmed that blacks all over the country voted overwhelming for the marriage amendment. Surprisingly, 71% of blacks in Florida and 69% of blacks in California voted in favor of establishing constitutional bans on gay marriage. In both Florida and California the black vote largely determined the outcome of the contests.
The entire week after the election, scores of gay friendly bloggers, writers, and pundits vehemently expressed their outrage. The Internet and other media buzzed with vitriolic anti-black rhetoric. Amazingly, gay opinion leaders accused blacks of betrayal, ignorance, and hate mongering. Roseanne Barr, a world famous “intellectual,” made the following statement: “...they went out of their way to misuse their votes (no doubt at the behest of the immoral and hateful pastors and clergy) to isolate and punish a small minority of citizens, and to deny them basic civil rights.”Wayne Beson of the Huffington Post made this condescending comment, “Uneducated people---black, white, and Hispanic—often derive their power from physical strength. They perceive gay as weak and antithetical to real manhood…uneducated people…react to the environment round them, which often rewards homophobia.”
Adding insult to injury, Geoffrey a black gay student at UCLA, joined a massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Westwood. As he was marching with his “brothers,” folks in the crowd turned on him calling him the n-word twice. Here is his account which was posted in Rod 2.0:Beta and other gay blogs:
“It was like being at a Klan rally except the Klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks…. A young WeHo clone said after last night ‘the n…s better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was best for them’. ”
Another black protesting for gay rights, Ronald, claimed that three older white men shouted, “Black people did this, I hope you people are happy!” Black gays are suddenly aware that there are some real racial tensions within their movement.
Jasmyne Cannick, a black lesbian writer for the Los Angeles Times, reported that many white gays were simply hurling expletives at every black person they saw at their protest rallies. In her view, black gays had bigger fish to fry than the issue of marriage.
Cannick’s analysis on Proposition 8 in California was clear and penetrating. She said, “Because I don't see why the right to marry should be a priority for me or other black people. Gay marriage? Please. At a time when blacks are still more likely than whites to be pulled over for no reason, more likely to be unemployed than whites, more likely to live at or below the poverty line, I was too busy trying to get black people registered to vote, period; I wasn't about to focus my attention on what couldn't help but feel like a secondary issue.”
Dan Savage, also a guest on Friday’s program, summarized the change in gay political engagement by saying, “No more Mr. Nice Gay.” This phrase was cute, but carries a threat of more violence and name calling. Churches are being vandalized in California, pastors have received death threats, and there is a general sense that gays will now try to intimidate those they cannot woo. Although the 80 demonstrations for gay rights conducted this past Saturday were peaceful, don’t expect this front to remain calm, cool, or collected!