In a Washington Post op-ed (the print version was titled “The Myth of Gays vs. Blacks”), Maya Rupert, the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ federal policy director, argues that:
with depressing regularity, divisive and misleading rhetoric is dredged up whenever same-sex couples’ right to marry is put to a legislative or popular vote—often exacerbating the false myth of a rift between gays and blacks.
As the op-ed continues, it appears that black opposition to marriage equality isn’t exactly a myth, but it is the fault of insufficiently progressive government social policies and spending, in Rupert’s view. She admits, for instance, that:
The Post reported recently that 53 percent of black voters in the state opposed the marriage-equality bill introduced by [Maryland] Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). Another recent survey, by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies Inc., concluded that support for marriage equality among black voters in Maryland has steadily declined over the past three months as the issue has gained prominence. The survey claimed that “opposition to same-sex marriage among African-American voters is what keeps the issue close in the state.”
But Rupert contends these numbers, like reports that 7 in 10 African Americans who went to the polls in California voted yes on the anti-gay-marriage Prop. 8 initiative, “mask a much more complex, and hopeful, reality.” Well, “hopeful” sounds nice, until you get to Rupert’s policy recommendations. She writes that:
marriage feels more fragile to many blacks because of a shrinking pool of available black men—due to disparate incarceration rates and the lack of meaningful and equal access to education and employment.
One could also say because of higher criminality rates among young black men.
Rupert continues that:
So while black couples are not legally precluded from marrying, social and legal inequalities make it just as inaccessible for many. Further, although the decline of marriage in the black community is rooted in racial and economic inequality, no state or federal policies have been introduced to address the problem. This political silence may well reflect much more about blacks’ historically lukewarm reaction to same-sex marriage than the oft-repeated, and offensive, assumption that black Americans are innately more homophobic than other groups.
So the answer is more welfare, economic redistribution and race-based preferences? That’s the liberal response to every social problem, I suppose.
As to Rupert’s contention about the “lack of meaningful and equal access to education,” black columnist Walter Williams wrote last week on this very topic, observing:
Many black students are alien and hostile to the education process. They are permitted to make education impossible for other students. Their misbehavior and violence require schools to divert resources away from education and spend them on security. … The sorry and tragic state of black education is not going to be turned around until there’s a change in what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior by young people. That change has to come from within the black community.
Williams notes, further:
I graduated from Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School in 1954. Franklin’s students were from the poorest North Philadelphia neighborhoods—such as the Richard Allen housing project, where I lived—but there were no policemen patrolling the hallways. … Students didn’t use foul language to teachers, much less assault them.
How might one explain the greater civility of Philadelphia and other big-city, predominantly black schools during earlier periods compared with today? Would anyone argue that during the ’40s and ’50s…there was less racial discrimination and poverty and there were greater opportunities for blacks and that’s why academic performance was higher and there was greater civility?….If white and black liberals and civil rights leaders want to make such arguments, they’d best wait until those of us who lived during the ’40s and ’50s have departed the scene.
Someone might tell that to Maya Rupert.
African-American opposition isn’t the sole roadblock to same-sex marriage, of course—witness this week’s depressing veto of a marriage equality bill by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (and he’s considered somewhat of a fiscal conservative, social moderate by GOP standards).
But blacks, unlike white evangelicals, are part of the rainbow coalition of the left that supports the Democratic Party and pushes for progressive policies. While elected black officials are willing to support gay equality as part of that coalition, black voters clearly aren’t onboard. And more government spending or preferential treatment isn’t going to change things.
More. I expected some of our loyal left-liberal readers would take aim, but the reflexive characterization of myself and this post as “racist” is still disappointing. I can’t respond better than “Another Steve,” who replied in the comments:
Criticize the prevalence of homophobia in the black community – RACIST. Point out that government isn’t the solution to what ails the black community (and actually, it was the cause of a great many of the social pathologies that liberals would have government now rectify through more govenrment) – RACIST. Ah, well, Much more fun to…feel all smug and superior to those RACISTS than actually worry about the problems at hand — that a majority of the black electorate joins with the religious right in blocking marriage equality.