President Obama's affirmation of gay marriage threatens to undermine the near-monolithic black support Obama enjoyed in 2008. Several members of the black clergy now say they intend to sit out the presidential election. One poll from last November found black opposition to gay marriage at 58 percent, higher than the rest of the country, which is about evenly split.
The real question is this: What took black church leaders so long to reconsider their near blind support for the Democratic Party?
The historical strength of black churches has been that of a moral and spiritual refuge in a once-hostile country of legalized slavery and Jim Crow. This explains why so many civil rights leaders came out of the church. The moral cause was just and clear: Equal rights mean equal rights -- for everyone.
But equal rights and equal results are two very different things. The modern civil rights movement lost its way by failing to appreciate the difference. To achieve "equal results," the Democratic Party, among other things, demands redistribution of wealth, a government response to the "gap" between the rich and poor, higher minimum wages and higher taxes on the so-called rich.
The Democratic Party opposes education vouchers, despite polls showing that black and Hispanic inner-city parents want them. The Democratic Party is the party of race-based preferences and also opposes privatization of Social Security.
The Democratic Party is the party of the welfare state -- a neutron bomb dropped on the intact nuclear family. Author/editor/professor Marvin Olasky, in his book "The Tragedy of American Compassion," traces the growth of welfare. During a mere three-year period in the 1960s, welfare rolls increased nearly 110 percent. President Johnson established "neighborhood centers" whose workers went door-to-door, apprising people of their welfare "rights and benefits."
Until the so-called "War on Poverty," the poverty rate declined steadily. At the turn of the century, nearly 70 percent of Americans were poor. But by the time of the "War on Poverty," the rate stood at approximately 13 or 14 percent. What happened? Welfare created dependency and decreased the incentive of the welfare recipient.
The Heritage Foundation compared families on welfare versus families eligible for welfare but that, for one reason or another, refused to take it. The results were startling. Heritage reported: "Young women raised in families dependent on welfare are two to three times more likely to drop out and fail to graduate from high school than are young women of similar race and socioeconomic background not raised on welfare. Similarly, single mothers raised as children in families receiving welfare remain on AFDC longer as adult parents than do single mothers not raised in welfare families, even when all other social and economic variables are held constant."
The Democratic Party is the party of Roe v. Wade, even though blacks are more pro-life than whites. Former President Jimmy Carter, a religious man who called himself "twice born," thought the Democratic Party made a tactical and moral error by embracing abortion-on-demand as a federal right guaranteed by the Constitution: "I never have believed that Jesus Christ would approve of abortions, and that was one of the problems I had when I was president, having to uphold Roe v. Wade. ... But except for the times when a mother's life is in danger or when a pregnancy is caused by rape or incest, I would certainly not and never have approved any abortions. ... My position on abortion ... is to minimize the need or requirement for abortion and limit it only to women whose (lives) are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest. I think if the Democratic Party would adopt that policy, that would be acceptable to a lot of people who are now estranged from our party because of the abortion issue."
The Democratic Party is the party of tax-the-rich. Never mind that Democratic Party icon President John Kennedy sounded downright trickle-downish when he said: "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low -- and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now. The experience of a number of European countries has borne this out. This country's own experience with tax reductions in 1954 has borne this out, and the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget -- and tax reduction can pave the way to full employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budgetary deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous expanding economy which will bring a budgetary surplus."
The Democratic Party is the party of minimum wage. Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman said, "We regard the minimum wage as one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books."
For all these reasons, having nothing to do with gay marriage, black churches should have broken with the Democratic Party long ago.
Better late than never.