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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Will Black Voters Punish Obama for His Support of Gay Rights?

Posted by on May. 10, 2012 at 7:41 AM
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1 mom liked this

They say the arc of history bends toward justice. If that’s true then as a nation we’re having a hard time bending on the issue of gay rights. But this week will be remembered as an historic turning point because President Obama threw political caution to the wind and came out as the man who can put principle over politics in announcing his support for marriage equality. “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Robin Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

Polls show America is trending toward embracing gay marriage. We now have a thin and growing majority that supports marriage equality. And we have the young Millennial generation strongly in favor of marriage equality while the older Boomers are firmly against. But national acceptance of gay marriage remains a long, hard slog. This week, North Carolina planted its feet in the past by becoming the 30th state to legally prohibit gay marriage and also abolished civil unions, thus enshrining romantic segregation in their state constitution. Separate and unequal in matters of the heart. We should all be ashamed that we’re still restricting civil rights to certain groups of Americans. Barring gays from marriage says their committed relationships don’t merit the protection or sanctity of marriage—an important step both socially and legally. It says their love and commitment is of lesser value. The sanctity of marriage in America has not been compromised by the thousands of married gay couples we already have. The institution of marriage was mocked by the sham made-for-TV 72 day marriage of Kim Kardashian and yet no bill has been proposed barring her from the altar.

In North Carolina we can see why the President’s position on marriage equality is so politically risky. Despite Presidents Obama and Clinton calling for the Amendment’s defeat, North Carolinians voted enthusiastically in favor of Amendment One with the highest turnout for a primary in 25 years. 500,000 people voted early, another primary record. Gay marriage is an issue that draws people to the polls in droves—even in a state where there was already a law banning same sex marriage. It is an issue that people on both sides of the debate feel deeply and intensely and one that could shape the election. For the President to support marriage equality will perhaps bring in big money from gay donors, will embolden some supporters who were disappointed by his equivocation about gay rights and who will be inspired by him standing up for what he believes. Trying to protect a legally oppressed group of Americans is what the bully pulpit is for. But this step could endanger him in the South and in heavily religious states and with black Americans. Supporting marriage equality could damage his chance for re-election as much as any other issue. It’s one that strikes deep into how people feel about the core values of their nation and their Bible.

The constituency calculus makes this choice politically risky for Obama. Black voters, who were critical to Obama’s ‘08 victory, are strongly against marriage equality. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll found 55% of blacks oppose gay marriage and 42% support it, which is almost the opposite of white voters—53% support and 43% oppose. This opposition, I think, comes from what many blacks are told by their church. Black antipathy toward gay rights is so deep that the National Organization for Marriage was planning to use it as part of their strategy in their battle to prevent marriage equality. A secret memo revealed their “Not A Civil Right Project” whose goal was “to drive a wedge between gays and blacks.” They would do this by finding and publicizing blacks who’d object to gay marriage as a civil right thus provoking gay marriage supporters into “denouncing [them] as bigots.” The point was divide and conquer: “No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.” And just like that blacks would become pawns of social conservatives, helping to block gays from a civil right.

I suspect it might have worked because I usually find that linking the gay rights struggle with the battle for racial justice in any way tends to elicit angry responses from many black people. Many show no empathy for gays as another legally oppressed minority and have no desire to see any similarity between the two historically oppressed identity groups. I hear people talk about  how much harder and more violent life has been for black Americans than gay Americans as if there’s an Oppression Olympics. The comparison is irrelevant. Hearing of the legalized discrimination of a group of people should send chills down black backs. We know what that feels like.

With blacks lagging behind the country on marriage equality but still a crucial bloc for Obama, the White House has made a courageous bet that black voters won’t punish him and that being on the right side of history will not eventually hurt him. Obama has seemed to want to overtly support marriage equality for a while—a year ago he said gays, “are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our coworkers, and they’ve got to be treated like every other American… I think we’re moving in a direction of greater equality and — and I think that’s a good thing.” Meanwhile his administration has repealed don’t ask, don’t tell, refused to back the Defense of Marriage Act, and expanded federal hate crime law to protect gays. Hillary Clinton, in Geneva in December, said, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” And this week Vice President Biden said he was, “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights.” But, until now the President remained cautious about publicly favoring gay marriage. Does this mean North Carolina and other states that are staunchly anti-gay marriage are lost? Does it mean Obama would rather stand on principle and lose than be a politician and win? Or perhaps he sees this as part of a victory strategy that rebrands himself as the courageous politician who will take hard stands and will stand up for the people.

by on May. 10, 2012 at 7:41 AM
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Replies (1-10):
trippyhippy
by Gold Member on May. 10, 2012 at 9:36 AM
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I think a small percentage might but I doubt they would vote for Romney instead.  But there are a lot of people that were planning on not voting for him because he had not come out for equal rights.  Now he will get all of their votes so I think if anything it will slightly benifit him or come out equal.

PurdueMom
by Sherri on May. 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM

No.  I do not.

GraceHudson
by on May. 10, 2012 at 9:41 AM
bump


StevensCare4u
by Member on May. 10, 2012 at 9:45 AM

 I dont think He REALY supports gay mariage. I think he knows he isnt in a total advatage this year so he's trying to earn those extra votes. YOu could tell by his voice that he was 100% coached to say that.

Woodbabe
by Woodie on May. 10, 2012 at 9:48 AM

He also says he supports the right to legalized abortion but that hasn't kept the other team from actively working to make it illegal. Just because he says he supports something doesn't make it law. He's not a dictator.

_Bama_
by on May. 10, 2012 at 9:51 AM
3 moms liked this

I dont know.... I think theres gonna be many people just sitting this one out....

jjandmilly
by Member on May. 10, 2012 at 9:58 AM

I'm not sure what the african american voters will think about this. Personally I think its great he came out for gay marriage however I think he is a little late to the party. His coming forward in support of it now just makes him look desperate and grasping for political straws.

tiffyhamm
by Silver Member on May. 10, 2012 at 10:19 AM
19 moms liked this
Not this black person or anyone else I know. Contrary to what many believe we aren't single issue voters and we're heavily democratic. This isn't going to keep us from voting for President Obama. If some are really upset with the president's support of gay marriage, those would stay home before they vote republican. Besides, many of us have already known (or felt) that he supported gay marriage from jump and still support him.

Bottom line, he is not going to lose thw support of the black community, a group that overwhelmingly votes democratic despite it's politicians supporting gay marriage. Why the hell does this even matter? This implies that we only voted for the president because of his race and now that he has openly expressed support for what many of us knew he already supported, this is a deal breaker for us. Traditionally, we vote Dem, we're not going to stop voting Dem anytime soon, they best speak to the issues that matter most to us, that affect our livelihoods. So while many may not agree with gay marriage, they still vote for democratic candidates (regardless of race) and those candidate are most likely to support gay rights.
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OneToughMami
by on May. 10, 2012 at 10:21 AM
3 moms liked this

Yeah a small percentage maybe, but they are no less ignorant than the same small percentage of whites not voting for him on this issue. If this is the only issue any America is using to not vote for someone then I really fear for humanity.

lovemy3littles
by Member on May. 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM
1 mom liked this

I think if any person, black, white or indifferent allows a candidate's stance on marriage equality to sway their vote... they shouldn't be voting anyways. 

Of all the issues in this country that we SHOULD be worried about, why do people get hung up on such trivial ones?  I think gay people should be allowed to marry if they want to, as do most black people I know.  I don't see what a person's color has to do with their opinion on gay marriage. 

I'm all for a person's rights.  Men, women, whites, blacks, gay, straight, christian or not...  we all live in this country, contribute to this country's economy, and are proud of this country.  Why should we not all be afforded the same basic rights?  It's really not fair, in my opinion, for one group to try and govern another group's rights, regardless of what they are. 

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