I had originally written a reasonably calm and passionless piece about this in which I attempted to study the reasons why 7 out of 10 African Americans voted for Proposition 8 in California, trying to look at this from a rational, unbiased viewpoint. However, I admit that my original writing was based on a news bite and I planned to flesh it out once I’ve done the research. I find that the flesh is rather biased, flabbergasted, and, quite frankly, astoundingly angry.

Now, there are likely several reasons why the Prop. 8 vote passed by 52%, and I’m not suggesting that the black vote made that happen. There are some, like Melissa Harris-Lacewell, author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, who suggest that Democrats, the party opposing this technically non-partisan issue, took the black vote for granted. Honestly, this is a very good point. Is it racist of me to assume that one oppressed minority that had to fight for their own civil rights less than fifty years ago (and still do to some extent) would automatically support another oppressed minority that is basically where it was in 1957 or thereabouts? This seems like a fair assumption to make. However, I also think it’s a fair assumption that a person would want to stay out of the private life of another person, so I suppose that theory is blown out of the water.

The problem, of course, is that this isn’t a racial issue, it’s a religious one. Once again, we’re talking about faith intruding on the fair and equal running of the country. Religion crosses racial boundaries in a way that no other cultural phenomenon can. Otherwise rational human beings continue to do stupid and short-sighted things in the name of faith and have for centuries, so why on Earth would one assume that they would bother to question the authority of spiritual leaders who are determined to place centuries of Biblical misinterpretation into the lawbooks? If you’re curious about the evolution of the horrendously malformed assumption that certain aspects of the Bible are anti-gay, drop a comment.

But let’s look at some of the quotes from the Washington Post article linked above, shall we?

“I think it’s mainly because of the way we were brought up in the church; we don’t agree with it,” said Jasmine Jones, 25, who is black.”I’m not really the type that I wanted to stop people’s rights. But I still have my beliefs, and if I can vote my beliefs that’s what I’m going to do.God doesn’t approve it, so I don’t approve it. And I approve of Him.”

– You’re right, it is the way you’re brought up in church, and “your beliefs” are that people’s rights should be stopped. You’ve been taught something incorrectly by religious leaders who were taught something incorrectly and so on, and so on, and so on. However, the blatant arrogance that you have any idea what God does and does not approve of, especially considering the woeful misinterpretation of scripture that this involves, speaks only to an upbringing that doesn’t encourage the challenging of authority. The irony is that if the first two numbers in the year were “19” instead of “20,” there’d be people saying the same about your rights. Wasn’t that long ago that the Bible was telling whites that they were superior to minority races, after all.

“The reason I feel they came out so strong on the issue is one, for them, it’s not a civil rights issue, it’s a marriage issue. It’s about marriage being between a man and a woman and it doesn’t cut into the civil rights issue, about equality.The gay community was never considered a third of a person.” (Derek McCoy)

– Ok, first of all, it’s the three-fifths compromise, jackass, not “one-third.” Nit-picking aside, Loving v Virginia was a marriage issue too. And while the gay community was never considered a third of a person (or two thirds for those of us who can do math), it’s never been illegal just to be black, so I think that balances out.

“I’m sorry for the gay people. They have feelings. Legally, I don’t want that for the children. They will be confused and think it’s okay. They might think they’re gay, too.” (Flor Guardado)

– The varying levels of ignorance that the above quote goes through is astounding. I hate to break it to you, Mrs. Guardado, but it is ok. The very idea that simply being exposed to gay culture will encourage children to be gay, or that hiding it from them will prevent it, shows both a lack of education and tolerance. Again, this seems to turn on the premise that sexuality is chosen and that a child might, upon learning of it, decide that they want to be discriminated against, that they want their lives to be more complicated, and yes, that they want to not be able to get married to the person they love.

“I don’t discriminate against people…But I’m a traditionalist. I come from a traditional family. People can do whatever they want in their own life, but I have to protect my family.” (Pablo Correa)

– Protect them from what? I’ve asked this question so many times, but I cannot get a single satisfactory answer for it. If somebody like this, any of them, can give me one answer that actually makes sense and is neither based on abject homophobia or a series of circular logic, I will personally give them $100. And yes, Mr. Correa, you do discriminate against people. You’re a bigot and a hypocrite. Sadly, it seems your culture is one, as Mrs. Guardado implied without her knowledge, with a tradition of hatred. All your little shop proves is that you’re more than willing to take money from gay people. I’m somehow not surprised by this.

That’s what this boils down to: tradition and faith. People have been raised, largely through their churches or church-going authority figures, to hate and fear the Other. It’s practically an American value to despise those who are different, who disagree, or who simply live in a way that we would prefer not to. How is it that we haven’t yet realized that that hatred in no way serves us as human beings, brings us no closer to peace, enlightenment, or any of the esoteric goals by which we measure human progress and that elusive quality: happiness? Instead, it prompts the weak-minded to repeat acts that we teach our children in school are cruel, but teach them otherwise at home in a sick tradition reminiscent of the one mentioned by Mrs. Guardado and Mr. Correa, a tradition of exclusion, fear, and hatred.

In what way is “domestic partnerships not marriage” anything other than “separate but equal”? How is this not reminiscent of the lynch mobs of such a large part of this country’s history?

It’s too soon to expect that people will simply learn to accept others for who they are, but in the meantime, is it too much to ask that you simply mind your own business? You don’t have to like gay people, you don’t have to agree with them, but do you have to take rights away from them? I’m not sure whether it’s worse if you’re actively a bigot or if you’re passively willing to discriminate against people, but if you’ve come from a place of discrimination yourself, either way is a betrayal of the sacrifices of the people who suffered for your equality. Falling on your faith is not an excuse, it’s the act of a coward, somebody too afraid to admit their own irrational fear of people not themselves.

I’ll allow people much more eloquent than myself speak on this: http://www.alternet.org/sex/105213/why_african_americans_should_oppose_california%27s_proposition_8/

And one from Keith Olbermann: