Sunday, September 21, 2008

NY Times: Half-Assed & Wrong Again

      They shoulda never gave them niggers the vote.

      Look, there's undoubtedly a problem of homophobia in the African American community. I'd be the last to pretend otherwise or to offer apologies for it. At the same time, it's exasperating seeing, time and time again, African Americans held up as the fount, root and face of anti-queer bigotry in this country when you have: Pat Robertson and his ilk blaming everything from 9-11 to natural disasters on the presence of gays and lesbians in the cultural fabric; the insane Phelps clan with their gay-baiting protests around the country; cocksucker closet-case white Republican politicians who create and help enforce rabidly anti-gay laws while going out of their way to prove that the "down-low" is very much a white thing too; a core mindset of All-American prejudice against anything that is "other," a bias which is predictably and productively tapped during every election cycle.
      But there was the NY Times today pimping the bullshit (cut & pasted and linked below.) Before I get to it, though, I will say that it's not surprising that the NY Times would be part of the process of undermining what is truly noteworthy about this political moment, which is the fact that the same black folks being painted monolithically in the article, their thin measure of poll-booth power blown up to monstrously destructive and reactionary proportions, these same black folks have largely rallied to take part yet again in a system that has historically (as in still, today) been rigged against them to steal votes, discard votes, intimidate folks away from voting (see: Ohio, Florida)... These same Negroes are taking yet another leap of faith in a corrupt process to give a second and maybe last wind to a decaying, declining country that doesn't deserve their faith in the slightest. (Wait, that almost makes Negroes sound retarded...) They're doing their part (yet again) to make this country live up to the ideals and promises upon which it was allegedly founded.
      But the Times finds a sinister undercurrent in this revitalized Negro hope and makes it a looming storm of bigotry and misplaced blame. Ooga Booga!
      First, the Times piece and then a nice rebuttal from Bloggernista, who puts the issues of race, power, money and homophobia in a much more complex and revealing narrative than the Times could be bothered with.


SAN FRANCISCO — Could Senator Barack Obama’s popularity among black voters hurt gay couples in California who want to marry?

That is the concern of opponents of Proposition 8, a measure on the November ballot that would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which was legalized in May by the State Supreme Court.

Mr. Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, is against the measure. But opponents of the proposed ban worry that many black voters, enthused by Mr. Obama’s candidacy but traditionally conservative on issues involving homosexuality, could pour into voting stations in record numbers to punch the Obama ticket — and then cast a vote for Proposition 8.

“It’s a Catch-22,” said Andrea Shorter, the campaign director of And Marriage for All, a coalition of gay and civil rights groups that recently started what it calls an education campaign around the state, focusing on blacks and framing the issue of same-sex marriage as one of civil rights.

The Obama/Proposition 8 situation appeals to those opposed to same-sex marriage, who are banking on a high turnout by blacks and conservative Latinos. “There’s no question African-American and Latino voters are among our strongest supporters,” said Frank Schubert, the co-campaign manager for Yes on 8, the leading group behind the measure. “And to the extent that they are motivated to get to the polls, whether by this issue or by Barack Obama, it helps us.”

To blunt that possibility, gay leaders and Proposition 8 opponents have been sponsoring casual events at restaurants in traditionally black neighborhoods in Los Angeles, meeting with black clergy members and recruiting gay black couples to serve as spokespeople on panels and at house parties and church events.

“This is black people talking to black people,” said Ron Buckmire, the board president of the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, a gay rights group in Los Angeles. “We’re saying, ‘Gay people are black and black people are gay. And if you are voting conservative on an antigay ballot measure, you are hurting the black community.’ ”

Black voters account for 6 percent of likely voters in most statewide elections, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, while Hispanic voters make up about 15 percent. But taken together, those two groups could easily decide the election, people on both sides of the issue said.

“If the white Christian evangelic movement believes they can do it alone, I’ve got news for you,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Sacramento, which supports the measure. “They don’t have the sheer numbers to do it without the minority effort.”

The Obama factor is just one potential element in the battle over Proposition 8.

Both sides said they expected to spend $20 million or more to help blanket airwaves. One advertisement by opponents shows a heterosexual bride on her way to the altar thwarted by various obstacles — a broken door, a clingy child — before the tagline: “What if you couldn’t marry the person you loved?”

Polls have shown Proposition 8 is trailing. A Field Poll of likely voters conducted last week found the measure was favored by 38 percent of voters and opposed by 55 percent. Mr. Obama, who has said he does not favor same-sex marriage, has stated his opposition to Proposition 8, calling the measure “divisive and discriminatory” in a letter to a gay Democratic club in San Francisco.

But opponents are not declaring victory.

“We think there’s 15 to 20 percent that are still undecided on this issue,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, which supports gay rights. “We do believe that if we can get our message out at least equal to the other side, we will win, but that’s a fund-raising issue.”

Mr. Kors said opponents of Proposition 8 had raised about $12 million so far.

Supporters of the proposition, which qualified for the ballot shortly after the Supreme Court decision, said they had raised about $15 million.

Those donations include money from religious and conservative groups, including $1 million from the Knights of Columbus and $500,000 from the American Family Association, run by the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon. That group’s Web site includes a fund-raising video for Proposition 8 featuring a clip of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while a speaker comments on the duty of black pastors to speak out in favor of Proposition 8.

Some supporters of the measure also say they sense a newfound enthusiasm in their ranks since Gov. Sarah Palin became the running mate of the Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain.

“I think Governor Palin has obviously energized social conservatives and religious conservatives and all types of conservatives,” said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst with Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, a conservative group that has spent nearly $450,000 on supporting Proposition 8. “And if that motivates more of them to get out to the ballot box than would have for John McCain by himself that has to benefit socially conservative issues like Prop. 8.”

The black community has long had a conflicted relationship with gay men and lesbians, Mr. Buckmire said, equal parts homophobia and denial.

“For too long, black people seemed to think there were no gay people around, especially black ministers,” Mr. Buckmire said. “They’d say the most insanely anti-gay things, and then the choir would come up and the choir is 50 percent gay.”

Still, the tendency of black voters to oppose gay marriage extends beyond religion. Patrick J. Egan, an assistant professor of politics at New York University who has studied black voting patterns on same-sex marriage, said black voters consistently polled much lower than white voters on approval for same-sex marriage, about 16 percentage points, even when religion was not a factor.

(from Bloggernista)

This [NY Times] article is troubling for a number of reasons:

1. It ties historic electoral enthusiasm among Black voters to an anti-gay proposal put forth by white evangelical conservatives and strongly suggests that anticipated strong voter turnout among African-Americans will have a negative impact on the advancement of LGBT equality. This theme negates the fact that the marriage repeal effort is being lead and funded by white conservatives including leaders within the Mormon Church who have never been supporters of issues that benefit African-Americans and have instead simply seen Black people as a monolithic mass only useful as a constituency to be targeted with fear, lies and anti-gay spin. In similar ways white conservatives have sought to stoke tensions between Black and Latino people as a way of building support for anti-immigrant measures under the guise that providing legal rights and social services to undocumented workers will mean fewer opportunities for African-Americans.

2. The writer of the article seems to forget that whites are a majority of voters in the state and that if the amendment to strip marriage away from same-sex couples is successful it will be because a lot of white voters voted against equal treatment under the law for gay couples. It is true that a majority of Black and Latino voters may end up voting against us on marriage, but according to the Public Policy Institute of California Black voters account for about 6% of voters in most statewide elections and Latino voters account for roughly 15% of votes cast. Together Black and Latino voters account for about 21% percent of votes. Even if every Black and Latino voter votes for Proposition 8, 21% of the vote is not nearly enough for the anti-gay amendment to pass. It would still need strong support from white voters.

For rest of the Bloggernista reply, click here

Here's the link to the NY Times piece.

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