Alex Blaze

Don't blame latinos and blacks if Prop 8 passes

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 30, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: black, California, gay marriage, latino, marriage, marriage equality, polling, Prop. 8, race, SUSA

Here's the racial break-down of the latest SUSA poll on Prop 8.


While there is definitely slippage between those categories (bi- and multiracial people, people of various racial backgrounds who get racialized as "latino" in the US and accept or reject that label to varying degrees), it's a rough estimate and it'll have to do if we're going to have this discussion about racial groups and their support for same-sex marriage.

What I've been hearing, both from gay people I know and on this site, is an assumption that if Prop 8 passes in California, then it's going to be because of blacks and latinos. Coming from a latino background myself, I can say that the stereotype that all latinos are homophobic is about as true as the stereotype that all white people are homophobic, and the numbers in California support that.

(Update: After putting this up, a William C. Velasquez Institute poll of latino voters put Prop 8 at 46-51.)

Whites in California support Prop 8 48-47, self-identified latinos 47-41. The undecided is much larger among the latter, and that might have to do with poor outreach to Spanish-language media by the No campaign (their TV campaign just put out their first Spanish-language ad this week, right before the election). Also, this issue is relatively new to many people in the latino community when it's put next to to white conservatives' obsession with same-sex marriage specifically. Conservative white Americans' obsession with same-sex marriage is really unparalleled in the world.

But what the numbers for latinos in California don't show is a huge difference. If anything, the SUSA shows that Californian latinos support Prop 8 less, since undecideds tend to end up in the No column on ballot initiatives.

The stereotype of the insecurely macho latino and devoutly Catholic latina who just can't get their minds into the 21st century is often negated by heart-warming acts of acceptance. Those instances don't reach many people, though, and the stereotype prevails.

I'm not saying that there aren't homophobic latinos. Of course there are. But there are also homophobic whites, and they're the ones who've been doing the bulk of the fundraising when it comes to this campaign, they're the ones who are agitating in favor of the amendment, and they're the ones who have been behind the trumping up of this wedge issue for the last couple decades. But we rarely hear mostly-white rallies reported through the lens of race as we would hear about rallies targeted towards latino or black homophobes (if there were any in California this time around).

As for black people, well, their support for Prop 8 is slightly higher than it is for whites in that survey. But the story is that they're going to turn out in record numbers for Obama, putting Prop 8 at risk of passing. Considering that African Americans make up about 6% of the California population, and that their support for Prop 8 is a mere 10 points higher than it is for whites, this narrative is looking more like a manifestation of white gays' general anxiety about putting their well-being in the hands of black people.

Try to deny it all we want, there is a fear among many white gays that they will be harmed by black people (specifically black men), and it manifests itself in strange ways. The idea that a small group of voters will be the reason Prop 8 will pass is looking like a manifestation of that fear.

But, seriously, if turnout is really high for African Americans, let's say about 20% more in California than there is normally, then there would be about one more percentage point of the voting population being black. And that percentage point will be only about 10% more likely to vote for Prop 8. That's a drop in the bucket.

And even that probably won't translate into votes at the ballot box:

And a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box in the last presidential election. When constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage were on 11 state ballots in November 2004, blacks in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio and Oklahoma were at least one percentage point less likely than whites to vote for them, according to CNN exit polls. Only in Georgia were blacks slightly more likely to vote for the amendment. (The remaining four states had too few blacks to make a meaningful comparison.)

Blacks, like whites, are divided on the issue. In March 2000, when Californians voted on Proposition 22 (the statutory ban on gay marriage that the state Supreme Court struck down in May), a Los Angeles Times exit poll showed that levels of support were very similar among the major ethnic groups, with Latinos slightly more opposed to allowing gays to marry, Asians and whites slightly less opposed, and blacks right in the middle.

If we're going to blame a racial group for Prop 8 if it passes, we could at least pick the one that's funding it, agitating for it, and who's been using same-sex marriage as a wedge issue for two decades.

Personally, I'd rather not reduce this to a racial dynamic, and blame the Religious Right and homophobes and scared-shitless politicians if it does pass, and then get to work on repealing it.

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Did you see the Hispanic-target ad? Dear god, those speakers' Spanish was atrocious; I was so red in the face after seeing such mangling of a language, grammatically and phonetically.

Hopefully the star appeal will make undecided Hispanics overlook the utter failure of this reaching out to a culture.

It's more about the vote of religious denominations whether Prop 8 passes. Catholics, largely Hispanic in California, evangelical whites such as the Rick Warren and Mormon types, and Fundamental Black churchs. If the religious fervor of today keeps up, more laws will be made against us, because a majority voters believe "god is in the mix", and "marriage is between one man and one woman". DOMA says so, so did Obama, Biden, Palin and McCain. Their god is our enemy and young LGBT's get the message and kill themselves. It has to stop.

I have to agree. This seems much more related to religion than race. Unfortunately, as you say, Hispanics trend Catholic and Blacks trend evangelical or "fundamental Black" churches. Throw in the Mormons and evangelical whites and we're screwed.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 31, 2008 3:28 AM

Alex is right but the question is not how people are going to vote but why.

Why people vote is a mostly function of the line up of social and political forces – or who’s on our side and who’s against us. Our side includes all the volunteers working for us at No on 8, Equality California and hundreds of local groups including campus and high school groups.

And we have allies, who are putting on an impressive effort on our behalf. First among them are trade unions who have donated well over a million dollars and who are letting their members know that unions oppose Prop. 8 and why. Then there’s the California NAACP, California Now, the League of Women Voters and a huge and diverse assortment of groups, all of whom realize that constricting our rights constricts theirs.

Opposed to us are some of the largest cults in the US: the mormons, the roman catholic cult and the southern baptists. They provide huge funds and a very powerful large voting base. Other superstitious cults hoping to lynch our rights include Latino evangelicals and catholics, the Slavic cults based on Russian and Ukrainian immigrants, most prot evangelicals and even a few conservative jewish congregations. All told, that’s a powerful and energized coalition of enemies, and as events have shown, they’re not above using violence and dirty tricks. (No on 8’s phone banks are currently being hit by robocallers trying to put them out of business. This is happening as they’re trying to raise money for a final effort. Republicans are probably to blame because they’re experts at that sort of thing.)

Our other opponents are politicians, whose timidity in opposing Prop. 8 is outweighed by the bigoted remarks about same sex marriage and LGBT rights in general. They include Der Gubernator, Obama, and Biden. McCain and Palin are the most honest of the lot because they don’t even pretend to support our right to marriage.

If we lose it’ll be because of the huge social weight of the cults and because of the two faced timidity of centrist politicians. If we win it’ll be because of our own efforts, however poorly directed and the power of unions and groups like the NAACP.

crescentdave crescentdave | October 31, 2008 3:56 AM

Your point is well-taken ... in terms of overall numbers, African-Americans aren't going to be the reason why Prop 8 passes ... if it does. It is still absolutely significant though ... the differences in percentages between Whites, Latinos, Asians as opposed to African-Americans.

Whether it's religion or other aspects of culture, this community is demonstrably more homophobic than the others. It's a reality.

We should be able to hold both these facts in our heads as we go about the business of defeating Proposition 8 AND intelligently working towards promoting healthier attitudes towards the LGBT community in all of our communities.

What existing marraige if Prop 8 passes? I married my husband two months ago in Palm Springs. They can't take that away, or can they ?
Yesterday in L.A. Times

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the state's top law enforcement officer, has said that Proposition 8 would not be retroactive and that existing marriages would stand. But his view is likely to be challenged.

"There is no clear answer," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine Law School. "This is ultimately going to have to be litigated by the courts."

It is uncertain how or when the issue would reach the courts if Proposition 8 passes. The question could be raised in an inheritance or property dispute or even by an employer. But in any case filed in state court, the California Supreme Court, which voted 4 to 3 to give gays the right to marry, would be the final arbiter.

Opponents of Proposition 8 could also challenge the entire initiative in federal court, and the ruling there could be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court found the measure constitutional, the California Supreme Court would still probably determine the fate of existing marriages. loca...0,7711556.story

Don Robison | November 7, 2008 2:20 PM

could you be any more wrong? blacks and latinos don't live your post-modern nightmare. I know you could never see why, with your myopic existential perspective, but they support breeding. Any attempt to pull blacks and latinos into the gay agenda is an attempt at black and hispanic genocide. the gay agenda and negative population growth are synonamous. Stop using us and our history as your human shield.