Like Thomas, I live in California–in Sodom on the Pacific itself. I was in the studio the other night and heard some classmates talking about how disappointed they were that gay people hadn’t done more to keep their rights from being taken away. Where were the ads, they wanted to know. What a crappy campaign the gays had waged on behalf of their own humanity.
It’s true: I did not do enough. I made calls to voters in swing states on behalf of the Obama campaign, full stop, and of course I did not vote for Proposition 8. That’s all I can say for myself, and it’s about all I can say for most of my queer friends. I know some people who were tireless organizers, but the gays really failed to look to their gay marriages. How else do you explain the level of apathy that allowed the passage of Prop 8?
Pam Spaulding posted over at Pandagon about how some LGBT people blame black people for the passage of Proposition 8. Or maybe they’re just using this as an excuse to let loose some of that not-so-latent racism, who knows? Some of the comments on the posts at Pandagon and at her blog do a lot to indicate that these are not isolated assholes but flares symptomatic of endemic bigotry. Even when people are saying that, well, we shouldn’t blame the entire black community, there’s an us and a them and it’s understandable that people are upset:
Backstabbing (3.67 / 3)
The thing of it is, I didn’t vote for an elderly, Republican, conservative, Catholic, White Protestant, gun-owning, Bush-voting, offshore-drilling supporting, terrorist-attack fearing, “better off”, Iraq-war supporting, pro-life, McCain-voting, or inland California man for President. I did vote for a black man. So while those groups going overwhelmingly for Prop 8 feels like business as usual, blacks going overwhelmingly for Prop 8 feels like a stab in the back. That doesn’t excuse responding in a racist fashion, but it does go a long way toward explaining why people are focusing on the role of the black vote in Prop 8′s success.
And on a post over at Pam’s place:
I realize this are just anecdotal examples, but… (0.00 / 0)
I worked a polling station in Culver City for No on 8 for the majority of the day until the polls closed, and amongst many, many expressions of support, these were the two negative experiences that registered with me:
–My team captain approached an African-American man to hand him a No on 8 palm card, and when he explained that Prop 8 would take away his right to marry, the man said–and I quote, “You don’t deserve any rights.” My team captain was so stunned by this, he didn’t know how to answer. (Later, he admitted he was tempted to say, “Yeah, they said the same thing back in 1850 to people like you,” but he thought better of it.)
–Almost all of the people identified as Yes on 8 voters were of Hispanic descent. They also all arrived as married couples with one or more children, and the wives–without exception–refused to look at me or even acknowledge my presence.
Oh, and also without exception… all the Yes on 8 people were very mean and angry. This isn’t a stereotype… this was exactly how it was all day long. By contrast, us No on 8 people are happy, upbeat… even perky. That’s the crowd I want to hang with. :-)
But I’m very, very disappointed in this outcome. I expected better from CA.
by: Marvin the Martian @ Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 11:52:37 AM CST
Slice and Dice the Prop 8 Results (0.00 / 0)
Yes, there are lots of ways to interpret the results of the elimination of LGBT civil rights in CA. Certainly the Mormons, the Knights of Columbus, the Roman Catholic bishops, and the evangelical Christians all played a significant role. And maybe the campaign against Prop.8 could have done things differently – had better ads, done more door-to-door, etc.
But right now in this day that should be a day of national triumph and joy not only African-Americans but all Americans, I’m struck by a really deep sadness. The exit polling showing the overwhelming support for taking away our rights by African-Americans – and particularly African-American women – may not have entirely doomed Prop. 8. But it’s awfully distressing that the Rosa Parks of today have determined that there is plenty of room in the back of the bus – and that back of the bus if for us!
Maybe it just points to something troubling about human nature. I can’t enjoy moving to the front of the bus without the satisfaction of knowing that someone else has to stay there.
I’m so depressed – talk me down please!
And here’s Dan Savage arguing that racist gay men are a “handful” of the total:
I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.
This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever.
Finally, I’m searching for some exit poll data from California. I’ll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8.
…Because “gay and lesbian voters” were far too invested in a principled anti-racist stance to vote for McCain/Palin. Clearly, it was those Reverend Wright ads that alienated the LGBT community, who had so many reasons to vote Republican this year. And then, of course, there was all that discussion around Propositions 4, 5, 6, and 9, which Dan could probably summarize off the top of his head without any googling around at all.
It is hateful to buy into racism in order to find a scapegoat for homophobia. And it is hateful beyond belief to get angry at black people for showing up at the polls in unprecedented numbers to exercise their right to vote. We nominated a black candidate! We didn’t attempt systematic disenfranchisement of people of color! They owe us! Why didn’t they just stay home if they were gonna pull this?
I mean, who the hell do you think John Lewis is?
It is bigotry, this idea that black people have some special spiritual obligation to recognize the basic rights of others because small groups of certain others have occasionally done the same for them, even when it was not in their immediate self-interest. It is bigotry, the idea that those people should know better when most people don’t.
I was talking about a couple of classmates.
Now, I do not know these people. They may have spent the days, weeks, months leading up to election day campaigning against the amendment–knocking on doors, calling friends and strangers, scheduling heart-to-hearts with family members, buying and wearing buttons and stickers, sending money, staffing booths and tables and call centers. Perhaps they’ve volunteered to find probate attorneys for all their definitely-not-married-now gay friends. Maybe yesterday night they were at protests themselves, refraining from race-baiting. I kind of doubt it. I suspect they felt that it was not their problem, because the day after the election they were excoriating the gays for failing to convince enough people to grant them equality under the law.
You cannot point at your neighbor and say, “You! You failed to protect the vulnerable! You were complicit in injustice! You were unmoved by suffering! You ignored cruelty, dishonesty, neglect, fearmongering, and bigotry because they did not affect you! You need help! I might have helped you! How could you not help me?” Not here. Not in my home state. Not in this country. We are all here together, and we are all usually perfectly content to pretend that we’re all alone. We just elected the first black president to ever become a likely contender for the office, number forty-four; we just voided gay marriage in California. I talked to retirees in Harrisburg until I was too punchy to match the number to the name,* and then I went home and waited for the results to come in.
*”Hi, this is Piny, the volunteer with the Barack Obama campaign? I called a few minutes ago, and, um, I just wanted to apologize for that–for getting your name wrong. It’s been a long day, and we’re really busy here, and…and anyway, I’m just calling to remind you to please vote today, if you haven’t already, and to, uh, support our guy. Senator Obama. Please. And I would like to assure you that every vote in…your state…is vitally important to us. Including yours. So I’m going to have some more coffee, maybe get something to eat, some protein, and…you have a wonderful election day! Thanks so much. Bye.”
No, not really. Not quite, anyway.
**Also, over at the Slog post:
yes, having one minority politically reject another minority, especially when the latter worked so hard for the former, is a difficult pill to swallow.
Kind of reminds me of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act fight last year when prominent gay writers were willing to push transsexuals under the proverbial bus for their own political gain.
Posted by Kate | November 5, 2008 10:52 AM