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July 10, 2009 1:32 PM   Subscribe

“But it was clear to me that any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have that is a clear violation of civil rights and I have to speak up on that.” The Southern Christian Leadership Conference — the 50-year-old civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others — is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter in response to his support of same-sex marriage in California.

In April, Mr. Lee attended a board meeting of the civil rights organization in Kansas City, Mo., and found himself once again in the minority position among his colleagues on the issue of same-sex marriage, but was told, he said, by the interim president of the civil rights organization, Byron Clay, that the group publicly had a neutral position on the issue.
posted by VikingSword (193 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
How dare any black person suggest that civil rights for blacks and civil rights for gays are even vaguely similar? Of course he should be fired! I mean, if we go that far, that means that there won't be a visible group even less accepted than people with dark skin.

Goddammit, it's their turn to have someone to hate.
posted by Malor at 1:40 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


This makes me sad and angry and want to all at the same time.

Sigh.

posted by yiftach at 1:43 PM on July 10, 2009


Maybe an exorcism would help.
posted by billysumday at 1:44 PM on July 10, 2009


What a brave man.
posted by purpletangerine at 1:47 PM on July 10, 2009


I think this is wonderful, specifically because it might help some African-American folks get some insight and perspective on how "the other side" thinks when it comes to racism, because this time some of them are "the other side."

Beyond that, though, what a travesty.
posted by davejay at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, c'mon, every issue has two sides. On the one hand, every human deserves equality under the law. But, on the other hand, those gays like to do it in the butt.
posted by jacobian at 1:49 PM on July 10, 2009 [29 favorites]


Don't get mad. Get snarky.
posted by jacobian at 1:50 PM on July 10, 2009


The two or three times I've been in a conversation with a non-white minority and have mentioned that maybe the struggles of gays are the same as the struggles of blacks or whomever, I have always been harshly rebuffed. It feels a bit like the same kind of blind spot Israel has toward the Palestinians.
posted by hippybear at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


the group publicly had a neutral position on the issue.

"Neutral," or indifferent?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2009


March 24, 2004:
"The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. called gay marriage a civil rights issue, denouncing a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban it.

Constitutional amendments should be used to expand freedom, not restrict it, Coretta Scott King said Tuesday.

'Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union,' she said. 'A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.'

Last month, President Bush said he backed an amendment that would ban same-sex unions, calling marriage 'the most fundamental institution of civilization.'

On Monday, more than two dozen black pastors rallied against gay marriage at a church in Atlanta, attempting to distance the civil rights struggle from the gay rights movement. They signed a declaration outlining their beliefs that marriage should remain a union between a man and a woman.

'To equate a lifestyle choice to racism demeans the work of the entire civil rights movement,' the statement said. 'People are free in our nation to pursue relationships as they choose. To redefine marriage, however, to suit the preference of those choosing alternative lifestyles is wrong.'"
posted by ericb at 1:53 PM on July 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


I was going to write a post on this earlier — thanks for putting this together.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on July 10, 2009


I am not quite sure how much of that stance is due to the influence of southern churches upon the people in question, how much is the inability to draw upon personal or relevant historical parallels and put them against the current troubles of others, and how much is simply from that part of human nature I hear muttering, just as soon as the stomping stops, "You know, when he pulls back in between the kicks and pauses for a second, that jackboot, it's very ... stylish. I wonder how it would look on me."
posted by adipocere at 1:54 PM on July 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


Some time ago, I was up late and watching Tavis Smiley's show. He had on a group of older black ministers. They spent a good part of the hour patting each other on the back over how they "stood with Martin" and "fought the good fight" for civil rights in America.

And then Tavis mentioned gay rights.

Well, you never saw such hemming and hawing and disgust in your life. According to these grand old men of the civil rights movement, gay rights are in no way comparable, and to even make the comparison was offensive in the extreme.

It was a sad, sad moment.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:55 PM on July 10, 2009 [19 favorites]


But, on the other hand, those gays like to do it in the butt.

And heaven forbid, we like to kiss in public!

Gay Men Kicked Out Of Restaurant For Kissing...Cop Who Shows Up Tells Them Kissing Is Illegal.
posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


As a gay white guy I don't think that the persecution gays really can compare with the persecution of blacks. Having said that, it's still totally irrational to asser that therefore it doesn't exist at all.

I would also categorically assert that homophobic blacks would also be racists if they didn't happen to be black. Because small minded bigots is as small minded bigots does.
posted by HotPants at 1:58 PM on July 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Goddammit, it's their turn to have someone to hate.

Quit blaming black people for Prop 8. They make up 6.3% of the population of California, vs 12.2% for Asians (forty-nine percent voted for Prop 8), 35.7% Hispanic (fifty-three percent went for it) and 60% White (of whom fifty percent liked Prop 8).

I'm black and not happy about the number of my group who voted to deny others rights, that shit is wrong, but until people realize that the black community does not automatically identify with the struggle for gay rights, nothing is going to change.

In the meantime, people might want to talk to the Whites and Hispanics, 'cause thats what it's going to take to win the issue.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:58 PM on July 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


What disgusts me on a whole 'nother level than typical white male heterosexual religiotard conservatives (don't get me wrong, they're stupid wastes of flesh) are black heterosexual religiotard conservatives and female heterosexual religiotard conservatives.

It's like they hate themselves.
posted by kldickson at 1:59 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This whole business just makes me so sad. It takes me back to looking at the vote breakdown on Prop 8 after the election. The cognitive dissonance is so strong the world feels like it's tipped off balance somehow.
posted by yoink at 2:01 PM on July 10, 2009


To equate a lifestyle choice to racism...

Dear Old Dude,
How would you feel if I described slavery as a "lifestyle choice"? How about sharecropping? Or poverty? Welfare?

Oppression is not a "lifestyle choice."
posted by Sys Rq at 2:03 PM on July 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


On Monday, more than two dozen black pastors rallied against gay marriage at a church in Atlanta, attempting to distance the civil rights struggle from the gay rights movement. They signed a declaration outlining their beliefs that marriage should remain a union between a man and a woman.

I wonder if these black pastors are familiar with "the curse of Ham", the Biblical justification used by white racists (including Jerry Falwell, who kept his pre-1970 sermons where he referenced this out of publication after he found himself on the wrong side of history on that one) to "prove" that black people were inferior and should be subservient to whites? Or the many references to slavery, used in the 1800s to justify slavery as ordained by God?

Seems like there's a Biblical justification for every group of people in Western culture that ever wanted to oppress another group of people.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:04 PM on July 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


I was up late and watching Tavis Smiley's show.

Tavis Smiley: Gay Rights & the Black Church (June 13, 2009).
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on July 10, 2009


Stop Blaming California's Black Voters for Prop 8.
posted by ericb at 2:07 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Quit blaming black people for Prop 8. They make up 6.3% of the population of California, vs 12.2% for Asians (forty-nine percent voted for Prop 8), 35.7% Hispanic (fifty-three percent went for it) and 60% White (of whom fifty percent liked Prop 8).

A/ Malor didn't mention Prop 8.

B/ Black people voted 70/30 in favor of it. That's deplorable regardless of whether or not it was decisive in getting it passed.

C) A majority of Asians and a majority of whites voted against Prop 8. It certainly could have been possible to get the ballot measure defeated over the intensely strong support of the African American community and the relatively weak support of the Hispanic community--it would have been nice, however, not to have needed to do so.
posted by yoink at 2:08 PM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


The two or three times I've been in a conversation with a non-white minority and have mentioned that maybe the struggles of gays are the same as the struggles of blacks or whomever, I have always been harshly rebuffed. It feels a bit like the same kind of blind spot Israel has toward the Palestinians.
posted by hippybear at 4:51 PM on July 10


That's because the struggles of gays is absolutely incomparable to the struggles of blacks. Were gays brought to this continent in chains specifically because the world viewed them as less than human? Were gays brought here like cattle to be treated like cattle? Did gays remain slaves on this continent for hundreds of years? Did they endure explicit second class status under the law in roughly half of the country until merely 2 generations ago?

In 1950, a gay man in Mississippi could ride in the front of the bus. Gays could sit at a lunch counter, drink from whites-only water fountains and use whites-only toilets, and send their kids to whites-only schools.

Of course gays have been victimized and demonized, still have to struggle to get their rights. But the civil rights struggle for African Americans in the US--in comparison to the struggle of any other race or that of women and gays--was uniquely harsh, difficult, and tragic.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


but until people realize that the black community does not automatically identify with the struggle for gay rights, nothing is going to change.

I do realize that. But the 70% overwhelming support still needs to be analyzed and explained.
posted by rocket88 at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2009


San Francisco Chronicle: Black Support for Prop. 8 Called Exaggeration.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2009


As a gay white guy I don't think that the persecution gays really can compare with the persecution of blacks.

Absolutely right. You can still be legally fired for being gay in many places.
posted by darkstar at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


In 1950, a gay man in Mississippi could ride in the front of the bus. Gays could sit at a lunch counter, drink from whites-only water fountains and use whites-only toilets, and send their kids to whites-only schools.

How much bullshit is this? What you mean to say is, closeted gays could do all these things. You may as well say that since black people could sometimes pass as whites, those particular people clearly weren't being discriminated against.
posted by TypographicalError at 2:13 PM on July 10, 2009 [43 favorites]


And, yeah, it's definitely not "The Blacks" as much as it's conservative religious groups like Southern Baptists and Nation of Islam; both are deeply entrenched in the Civil Rights Movement, and both are pretty deadset against teh gay.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:14 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


ericb: I wish your link had been to the actual show.
posted by hippybear at 2:16 PM on July 10, 2009


B/ Black people voted 70/30 in favor of it. That's deplorable regardless of whether or not it was decisive in getting it passed.

I think this is an important point. I do not blame "black people" for Prop 8s passage. I do, however, think it is burying one's head in the sand not to recognize that the single most homophobic major demographic group in California (and probably the US as a whole) are african americans. This is important to recognize because it has implications for outreach, deploying educational resources, etc.

On a semi-related note, can someone explain the Chronicle article? How exactly did they come to the conclusion that the 70% in exit polls was wrong and the true level of support was more like 58% among african americans? The article just glosses over it with a reference to looking at various precincts. I'm not arguing it can't be true, I just don't understand how they got there.
posted by Justinian at 2:17 PM on July 10, 2009


Pastabagel, homosexuality is hideable; of course it's easier to AVOID persecution for it, but you can't be open about it. Why hide it, though?

I do take issue with your comparison with women's rights - you think the civil rights struggle dwarfs it? Bullshit. Women have faced some sort of oppression in the past in a lot of groups, not just the West - black women have had problems from black men, Asian women have had problems from Asian men, etc.

The attempts to suppress the rights of more than half of the human race were atrocious.
posted by kldickson at 2:17 PM on July 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


ericb: I wish your link had been to the actual show.

I'm looking for video of the show right now.
posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on July 10, 2009


No one struggle is bigger than another; they are all a struggle for equality.
posted by kldickson at 2:18 PM on July 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


the group publicly had a neutral position on the issue.

"Neutral," or indifferent?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:51 PM on July 10 [+] [!]


If I know organized religion (and oh, I surely do) it means "neutral" as in "there's a great big obvious split in our constituents over this issue and we're desperately hoping we can pussyfoot around it and not have to deal with it becoming an actual schism and not just an ideological one." I'm not advocating ideological cowardice, but I understand the reluctance of organizations to engage issues that are absolutely going to harm them in the short term.

Again, I'm not excusing anyone's prejudice here, but in response to the comments about the hypocrisy of the anti-gay marriage position, it's important to understand (for the sake of developing better tactics for future conflicts) that minority Christians are not simply sitting around failing to "get" that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. They are being supplied with very specific, directed rhetoric making the case that this is not the case. And as Rev. Lee notes in the linked article (in agreement with several other discussions of the issue I've read), the anti-Proposition 8 movement basically failed to attempt to communicate to these communities at all. They didn't understand their positions, they didn't do anything substantial to counter them, they didn't organize among them, they didn't find their already existing allies among them.
posted by nanojath at 2:18 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is about civil rights.

It is about civil rights.

It is about civil rights.

Of course there are individual differences and issues specific to the struggle of black people, native americans, women, asians, gays and so on. Of course there are. However:

It is still about civil rights.

And an organization, founded to fight for civil rights, is disgracefully hypocritical if they refuse to recognize the civil rights of anyone other than themselves. They lose all moral authority, because then they become merely advocates for themselves. OF COURSE you are going to be advocates for yourselves - everyone is; you gain no moral authority from merely being an advocate for your own interests. So, you, hallowed civil rights organization, are "officially" neutral on the key civil rights issue of our time in this country? You are no longer a civil rights organization - you are merely an advocacy group. Like any other.

It is about civil rights.

It is about civil rights.

It is about civil rights.

There is no way to be neutral about this issue, and still be a respectable institution. Certainly not a civil rights organization.
posted by VikingSword at 2:19 PM on July 10, 2009 [52 favorites]


San Francisco Chronicle: Black Support for Prop. 8 Called Exaggeration.

Ericb, that study has been pretty widely criticized as a piece of wishful thinking. Here's one example.
posted by yoink at 2:22 PM on July 10, 2009


How much bullshit is this? What you mean to say is, closeted gays could do all these things.

How precisely would the strangers at a lunch counter or in the restroom know someone was gay unless they knew them personally already?
posted by Pastabagel at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2009


A good post and set of links re: POC & Prop 8 when it passed. Also:
Black, Queer, and scapegoating.

I'll do some link digging- there was some reports of POC LGBT groups which wanted to help out with anti-8 campaigning and were actively TURNED AWAY when it was going on...
posted by yeloson at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2009


A/ Malor didn't mention Prop 8.

Not directly, no, but since Prop 8 was a major point of the article and Malor reduced the various points to "blacks wanting someone to hate" it seemed like a good place to start

B/ Black people voted 70/30 in favor of it. That's deplorable regardless of whether or not it was decisive in getting it passed.

No, but it's immaterial to actually getting it passed. 70% of 6.3% is 4.4% of a population known to be strongly against the issue. Why everyone is upset and all but demanding answers is beyond silly when there are larger populations, more easily influenced.

As Pastabagel eloquently put it, there are fundamental differences between the struggles and until that is acknowledged and addressed, not much movement on the issue by the black population will be made.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:24 PM on July 10, 2009


Quit blaming black people for Prop 8. They make up 6.3% of the population of California, vs 12.2% for Asians (forty-nine percent voted for Prop 8), 35.7% Hispanic (fifty-three percent went for it) and 60% White (of whom fifty percent liked Prop 8).

From the article:

“The black church played a significant role in Proposition 8 passing,” [Rev. Lee] said. “The failure of the campaign was to presume that African-Americans would see this as a civil rights issue.”

That's not to say that black folks are responsible for Prop 8 passing, but when you have a civil rights leader from the black community saying that his church brethren played a role, maybe that bears listening in that context.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:25 PM on July 10, 2009


Wow. Forty minutes in and there's a lotta "your favorite oppressed group sucks" already.

VikingSword nailed it above.
posted by nushustu at 2:25 PM on July 10, 2009


This makes me wonder if these older black civil rights leaders would feel the same way once they took a look at what other demographics agreed with them. No argument is false by association, but it can still say a lot about the position you take when you look at who else is taking it.
posted by shmegegge at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we please, please not veer off into more-oppressed-than-thou territory? It doesn't do anyone any good - well, it does those in power good when we fight each other instead of the powers that be.

It's not a zero-sum game. Acknowledging that the struggle for gay rights has much in common with civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s does not lessen or trivialize the fight for civil rights. Acknowledging that the struggle for gay rights is not exactly like the struggle for racial equality does not trivialize or lessen the struggle for gay rights.

Black people and gay people have been treated differently throughout the history of the U.S. But each group deserves to be treated as full citizens, with equal rights and responsibilities.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on July 10, 2009 [9 favorites]



This is somewhat off topic. But some may see the tiny relevance to:

This whole business just makes me so sad. It takes me back to looking at the vote breakdown on Prop 8 after the election. The cognitive dissonance is so strong the world feels like it's tipped off balance somehow.

Last Friday I had cause to drive through a neighborhood which I had not been through since last October. Lower middle class homes owned by obviously working class people. The wife and I observed McCain/Palin signs in 90% of the yards back then. Last week 50% of the homes were diserted.

It is the exact same cognitive dissonance cited by the poster I quoted. People willingly acting in a manner that is clearly against their own self interests.

Sorry about the derail.
posted by notreally at 2:28 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel: I am not intending to equate the history of these two groups. Not by any means. (I could argue that the life of the hypothetical gay man in 1950 was equally as terror-ridden and persecuted and prone to early death as a black man in 1950, depending on where he lived or what circumstances life found him in...) But the struggles faced today, in the 21st Century, seem to be pretty parallel. Both groups find that the general culture gives them lip service about equality and acceptance while still using legal and illegal means to terrorize and persecute them. Both groups find routinely that "the police are not their friends". Both groups find overt bigotry directed toward them and regarded as humor. Both find stereotypes of themselves are the main presentation in the media.

Why the men and women fighting today for equality have to allow the weight of history to prevent them from banding together in the fight is beyond me.
posted by hippybear at 2:28 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know what? A lot of kids who were abused as children grow up to abuse as well. Violence and degradation are corrosive to the adequate formation of empathy; people often react to suffering by retreating inward and convincing themselves that their struggles convey upon them a unique status. It's always dangerous to extrapolate from individual psychological responses to community behaviors, but I think it works in this case.

People need not to treat this like it's some special problem for the black community, or that blacks have some particular responsibility to be ethically bold in the face of the struggles of the gay and lesbian community. 70% of blacks in this case behaved in the same hateful and stupid fashion as a bare majority of the voting residents of California.

I'm more inclined to see the disproportionate numbers as an indication that there is a latent moral cancer within the leadership of the black community, that this cancer is a lingering legacy of racism, and that the responsibility to heal it lies within the black community itself. The idea that gays and lesbians should be calling black leaders out and demanding that they identify with their struggle is absurd and creepy. Educate your state. Don't single out particular communities when the majority of Californians share their prejudice.

All that said, I do believe that our President has a particular ethical and leadership responsibility here. Not as a black man, obviously. But as a popular politician whose rise to prominence depended, in part, on the reference to those in red states "having some gay friends." It's time for Obama to step up and I fully support the moves by gays and lesbians to ratchet up the pressure on him.
posted by felix betachat at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do take issue with your comparison with women's rights - you think the civil rights struggle dwarfs it? Bullshit....
posted by kldickson at 5:17 PM on July 10 [+] [!]

No one struggle is bigger than another; they are all a struggle for equality.
posted by kldickson at 5:18 PM on July 10


I'm not sure how to parse that out. But I do understand your point. Women's struggle for rights is certainly different than that of blacks, and is difficult in the sense that the fundamental issue is probably not the law or even society but rather the cultural norms in the west set thousands of years ago. So in that sense women's struggle is a struggle to shift the entire culture, a monumental effort.

But I don't know that I'd call it a struggle for rights. Women can adopt, marry, and are under the law treated like men, and in the not uncommon cases when their rights are abrogated, the law provides special causes of action to obtain relief. In other words, the law seems to understand that the law itself isn't the problem, the problem is the norms the law rests upon.

Also, women's struggle seems to be about more than "rights". It's a struggle for liberty, which is different. (I think.)
posted by Pastabagel at 2:33 PM on July 10, 2009


And while I have no personal experience with this, I hear that the circumstances of America's black gay men are REALLY horrendous. Much more community persecution, family rejection, etc. than in just about any other group. But as I said, that's not first-hand knowledge.
posted by hippybear at 2:36 PM on July 10, 2009


Were gays brought to this continent in chains specifically because the world viewed them as less than human?

No, we're just born into subhuman treatment. No travel necessary.

Were gays brought here like cattle to be treated like cattle?

No, we're just born into being treated like cattle.

Did gays remain slaves on this continent for hundreds of years?

Gay folks have been marginalized in many societies, off and on, for a lot longer.

Did they endure explicit second class status under the law in roughly half of the country until merely 2 generations ago?

Gays still endure second-class status in many parts of the world — and worse.

In some countries, some us get hanged by governments for being gay. Here in the United States, we still have violent hate crimes and their associated gay panic defenses from their apologists.

It wasn't until five years ago that sodomy was still illegal in the United States, and we have a melange of various federal and state laws that have been enacted to take away different rights from gay folks, which are otherwise guarded by equal protection statutes.

That's not to say X folks have been treated worse than Y folks, but to deny that gay folks have been (frequently, violently) discriminated against is to marginalize the suffering of a group of people, and that's wrong, irrespective of what you think about what black people have endured.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:40 PM on July 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I confess that I don't really understand the whole argument that starts "Blacks have endured FAR more pernicious persecution over the years than gays have" and then somehow ends "therefore, gays really don't have civil rights worth fighting for".

The former statement I can conceptually accept within a particular argumentative context, but it just seems to be a complete non sequitur to somehow reach the latter statement as the conclusion. Yet that seems to be exactly the line of argument that suggests that because Blacks were enslaved, therefore gays don't really have any civil rights concerns that should be championed by a civil rights organization.

Second, it's true that if ANY demographic group had shown more tolerance in the Prop 8 vote, it wouldn't have passed and therefore one can't "blame Blacks" for the final result. But as was mentioned above, the African American community was demonstrably FAR less tolerant in that vote than other ethnic groups and there should come some acceptance of culpability and soul-searching because of that. I think that's the point being made in this thread and it seems fair to make it.
posted by darkstar at 2:40 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


70% of 6.3% is 4.4% of a population known to be strongly against the issue.

No, 70% is 70% of a population known to be strongly against the issue (i.e. African Americans in California). It's also 70% of what was in fact 10% of the total votes cast on Proposition 8 (black voters voted disproportionately on Prop 8 compared to their representation in the general population). It is thus 7% of a population (California's) that passed Proposition 8 by 52.24%. Or, in other words, if that 70/30 split had been reversed, Proposition 8 would have been defeated--handily.
posted by yoink at 2:41 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


'To equate a lifestyle choice to racism demeans the work of the entire civil rights movement,'

Hmm. I never thought about it like this before; it's a lifestyle choice, huh?

Someone should ask people who think this way if, since it's a choice, they could choose to be gay. Not as an attempt to trick them into anything, but an honest question; "So, as a heterosexual, you are capable of choosing to be attracted sexually to people that are the same gender as you?"

I suspect most people who believe it's a choice wouldn't be able to honestly answer "yes" to this question.
posted by quin at 2:44 PM on July 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Not to get all religion-bashing or anything, but if we were talking about a group of primarily white guys who called themselves the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, would anybody be surprised by this story?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:46 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or, in other words, if that 70/30 split had been reversed, Proposition 8 would have been defeated--handily.

Interesting how people are focusing, so laser like, on the black community about this issue.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:50 PM on July 10, 2009


Even more interesting... how an organization which was founded on the principle of fighting for equal rights for all would rather expel one of its own than expand the concept of what "for all" means.
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that 70% figure does draw one's attention, doesn't it...
posted by darkstar at 2:54 PM on July 10, 2009


Interesting how people are focusing, so laser like, on the black community about this issue.

Yes, indeed. Why, in a thread that is about the black community's attitudes towards gay people would people focus on the black community's attitudes towards gay people? What could possibly explain this, do you think?
posted by yoink at 2:54 PM on July 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


And while we're at it, I seem to recall the Mormon church receiving - and rightfully so - quite a bit of criticism for it's extraordinarily high funding of the pro-8 cause.

It's what people do: we notice patterns and try to understand them.
posted by darkstar at 2:56 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, if white people had, as a group, opposed Prop 8, it wouldn't matter what black people thought about the issue. It's ridiculous and racist to single out black people as a group to execrate on this issue.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:56 PM on July 10, 2009


I think the focus isn't that "OMG if black people had just voted the other way, Prop 8 would have gone differently" so much as "wow, umm ... if there's one segment of the population that you would think would sympathize ..." It was the hypocrisy, not woulda-coulda-shoulda.
posted by adipocere at 2:58 PM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Perhaps black people should not be singled out for Prop 8. How then should we regard the action being taken in the article linked to above? Not saying the two are related, but there's something going on which needs to be assessed, I think.
posted by hippybear at 2:59 PM on July 10, 2009


Why, in a thread that is about the black community's attitudes towards gay people would people focus on the black community's attitudes towards gay people? What could possibly explain this, do you think?

I don't know, let me check the Asian, Hispanic and White threads discussing those communities attitudes towards gay people and I'll get back to ya.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:59 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's ridiculous and racist to single out black people as a group to execrate on this issue.

Hey, I'm all for putting the Mormon church leadership in front of a judge for violating tax laws. Let's put scrutiny on everyone who played a part in codifying bigotry into our legal system.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2009


Why is a black person who opposes gay marriage a hypocrite and not, say, a regular, run-of-the-mill prejudiced person?

(I'd submit that how one answers this question is an adequate measure of the degree to which our country has overcome its legacy of racism.)
posted by felix betachat at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is a black person who opposes gay marriage a hypocrite and not, say, a regular, run-of-the-mill prejudiced person?

I would say, in this context, the question is more, why is a black leader who works for equality in society for blacks who works to oust members of his organization who also advocate equality for gays more of a hypocrite than your average person?

The answer is pretty obvious.
posted by hippybear at 3:03 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know, let me check the Asian, Hispanic and White threads discussing those communities attitudes towards gay people and I'll get back to ya.

I'm taking this to mean that you think that because this thread was even posted at all shows an anti-African American bias, since there are ostensibly no other threads that have been posted about gay tolerance controversies in other organizations devoted to a particular race, color, creed, religion, etc. That does seem to be the message: that instead of addressing the message, you attack the thread itself as being racist in and of itself.

Is that an accurate assessment of where you're coming from with that comment?
posted by darkstar at 3:06 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Even more interesting... how an organization which was founded on the principle of fighting for equal rights for all would rather expel one of its own than expand the concept of what "for all" means.

Personally, I have nothing against gay marriage. But I admit that when it comes to civil rights, the SCLC simply has more wisdom and experience than I do. They also have the moral authority of having "stood with Martin." So rather than jumping to the conclusion that they are bigots or retards, we might want to listen to them and try understand what they're saying. 'Cause frankly, if these guys had all lined up on one side of virtually any other issue in American life, all of Metafilter would be coming to their defense. For some reason, people have chosen same-sex marriage as the line in the sand, where whomever stands on one side is worthy and human, and whomever stands on the other, no matter what their civil rights record, is banished to the outer darkness along with Sarah Palin. (And by the way, President Obama doesn't support same sex marriage either, does he?)
posted by Faze at 3:07 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Faze: "Appeal to Authority" logical fallacy.
posted by darkstar at 3:10 PM on July 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I would say, in this context, the question is more, why is a black leader who works for equality in society for blacks who works to oust members of his organization who also advocate equality for gays more of a hypocrite than your average person?

Well, that's surely true. I agree with you and my above comment shares the sentiment that this is a problem of leadership within the black community and, as such, ought to be dealt with in that way. Black civil rights leaders are squandering goodwill at a crucial historical moment, something which baffles me.

But your nuance is not universally shared. Even in this thread, the question quickly becomes framed as a problem for black people generally, or for the black community. When this move is made, the unstated implication seems to be that blacks have some lingering, race-based responsibility to support the aims of all who see themselves as fellow travelers. This implication seems vaguely extortionate. As if support for black civil rights was a political gesture easily withdrawn and not, as all struggles for equal rights are, an absolute moral imperative.
posted by felix betachat at 3:11 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


So rather than jumping to the conclusion that they are bigots or retards, we might want to listen to them and try understand what they're saying.

We are listening to them. That's the point of this thread. What we're hearing sounds, sadly, bigoted. That, too, is the point of this thread.

Obama doesn't support same sex marriage, it's true. He was, however, opposed to Proposition 8 and is opposed, generally, to constitutional or federal barriers to the endorsement of same-sex marriage by individual states. That puts him radically out of step with the African American community in California and, apparently, with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
posted by yoink at 3:14 PM on July 10, 2009


rather than jumping to the conclusion that they are bigots or retards, we might want to listen to them and try understand what they're saying.

Please, share with us any evidence of what they are saying. Because all I see in the article is that phone calls to the SCLC were either not returned or were rebuffed with non-answers.

I am not certain I see the connection between this incident and Obama, other than perhaps the participants are all black? Obama isn't a member of the SCLC, he isn't expelling members of his staff based on their views about gay marriage... Or is that just a bait statement?
posted by hippybear at 3:14 PM on July 10, 2009


In my mind, the focus here is on the SCLC, rather than the broader black community. The fact that an organization dedicated to the fight for civil rights, would attack one of their own precisely for fighting for the civil rights of others is the key issue. They should not get a pass for this, anymore than they should get a pass for being "officially" neutral on this central civil rights issue (while acting with bigoted behind the scenes).

I wonder how many civil rights organizations back in the 60's were "officially neutral" on black people's civil rights, and how well that would sit today with the SCLC?

That is the issue. The abdication of care for anyone's rights but your own, and indeed opposition to other's rights. Disgusting. There really is no defense for this.
posted by VikingSword at 3:15 PM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


So rather than jumping to the conclusion that they are bigots or retards, we might want to listen to them and try understand what they're saying.

Again, from the article:

“The black church played a significant role in Proposition 8 passing,” [Rev. Lee] said. “The failure of the campaign was to presume that African-Americans would see this as a civil rights issue.”

The SCLC may have once "stood with Martin", but they now don't appear to understand his message too well, which is clear to anyone when we see a prominent figure within the organization who has the courage to stand up and say what he knows is wrong, and his brethren turn around and threaten to punish him for doing the right thing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:15 PM on July 10, 2009


I don't see it that way, felix. I see it as simply noticing that black civil rights leaders have spent generations struggling for the civil rights of their own group, but when it comes to championing the civil rights of other groups, they disproportionately reject the idea and even oust their own leaders when they espouse the idea.

Asking someone to show some consistency is hardly extortionate. Or, if it is, then we should all be extorted by our consciences to afford the same liberties that we demand for ourselves.
posted by darkstar at 3:16 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


the group publicly had a neutral position on the issue.

"Neutral," or indifferent?


The word is pronounced "pass-siv uh-gress-siv".
posted by IAmBroom at 3:18 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


When this move is made, the unstated implication seems to be that blacks have some lingering, race-based responsibility to support the aims of all who see themselves as fellow travelers.

Bollocks. All human beings have a responsibility to support the legitimate claims to freedom and equality of all other human beings. White people had--and for many, many years failed miserably and massively to take up--the responsibility to support black people in their struggles for freedom and equality. Jewish people have a responsibility to support the legitimate aspirations of Palestinian people in their struggles for freedom and equality, etc.

The idea that because black people have historically suffered appalling oppression (and continue to suffer many kinds of implicit and explicit discrimination) that it is therefore somehow illegitimate to discuss attitudes in the black community that are demonstrably widespread and equally demonstrably deplorable is just ridiculous.
posted by yoink at 3:20 PM on July 10, 2009


VikingSword : The fact that an organization dedicated to the fight for civil rights, would attack one of their own precisely for fighting for the civil rights of others is the key issue.

Yes, exactly. The issue here isn't how black people in general feel about gay marriage, it's how this specific group of people, who have fought a good fight for equality, are acting towards one of their own when he applies the equality brush to a different community. And more precisely, how those actions seem hypocritical when viewed against their previous works.
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on July 10, 2009


Asking someone to show some consistency is hardly extortionate.

Okay, maybe not, but expecting them to show consistency is certainly paternalistic. Again, the issue is why black people in general are seen to have some particular responsibility to take a moral stance that the majority of Californians did not themselves take.

Every black person who pulled the lever to oppose gay marriage behaved hatefully. If a black person is truly equal in our society, then her hateful act is no different than the hateful act of a white person in the adjacent booth.
posted by felix betachat at 3:23 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Faze:

That's because the issue is, pardon the pun, pretty much black and white. If you are opposed to the legal right to have gay marriage, you *are* a bigot. You are oppressing people because you find something "icky". The fact that this was an organization that specifically fought against oppression only serves to make this action incredibly hypocritical, and does *not* legitimize it whatsoever.
posted by leviathan3k at 3:26 PM on July 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


yoink, the issue is not being framed in the universal terms you're using. If it were, then this would be seen as a terrible tactical and moral failure on the part of black civil rights leaders and not, as it is so often framed, as a failure on the part of the black community. The minute you reference the prop 8 vote as particularly problematic for blacks as blacks, you are in dangerous territory.

Why is this so hard to recognize?
posted by felix betachat at 3:26 PM on July 10, 2009


expecting them to show consistency is certainly paternalistic.

Expecting and holding accountable an organization to live up to its own stated standards of promoting civil rights is now paternalistic? Since when?
posted by darkstar at 3:30 PM on July 10, 2009


Every black person who pulled the lever to oppose gay marriage behaved hatefully. If a black person is truly equal in our society, then her hateful act is no different than the hateful act of a white person in the adjacent booth.

And are you saying that it is verboten to point out that 70% of one community commited that "hateful act" while fewer than 50% of the rest of the community did?

Tell me, if the numbers were the other way around, would you object equally to a discussion that went something along the lines of "see, the people in the black community really get it, their experience of the living under a legal system that deprives them of the rights enjoyed by the majority makes them natural allies of this movement; we clearly need to find some more effective way to reach out to the white and asian communities, however"?
posted by yoink at 3:33 PM on July 10, 2009


Sorry for not fighting with anyone. I'm just here to say that anyone who thinks civil rights are not for EVERYBODY is a member of a soon to be bygone era.

In a few years younger gays won't even know what it means to be "in the closet".

I look forward to that.
posted by snsranch at 3:36 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


And I just have to draw a line in the sand and note right here that there seems to be an awful lot of effort in this thread to turn concerns about what's going on in the linked story into some kind of racist attack on black people.

Unsubtle musings about why we're focusing "laser like" on Black people, leading suggestions that there have never been other threads about gay controversies in other groups, comments that those expressing concerns are "extortionate" and "paternalistic"?

I mean, really. Just come out and make it a clear-cut ad hominem. Say that anyone who is concerned with the linked story is a racist. That'll avoid all the trouble of using code words and the thin veneer of pretending to engage with the issue.
posted by darkstar at 3:37 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


yoink, I'm not saying it's forbidden. I'm just suggesting that presenting this as some sort of collective moral failure on the part of an entire community is creepy and judgmental. In my first comment in this thread, I've suggested another frame of reference that might explain the data, a frame which doesn't depend on implications of special ethical responsibility. Talking about the vote and the hatefulness it implies as a lingering effect of segregation and racism is perfectly acceptable. Strategizing about how better to reach out to black Americans and to present the struggles of gays and lesbians as analogous to the struggles of the civil rights movement is good politics. But a line is crossed when it is implied that blacks as blacks should have supported proposition 8.

Your suggestion to turn the question around is interesting. I wouldn't object to such a discussion, obviously. But I would see it as weird and not entirely helpful. What's different in your counter case is the idea of explanation for a phenomenon rather than expectation of one.
posted by felix betachat at 3:42 PM on July 10, 2009


Someone should ask people who think this way if, since it's a choice, they could choose to be gay. Not as an attempt to trick them into anything, but an honest question; "So, as a heterosexual, you are capable of choosing to be attracted sexually to people that are the same gender as you?"

I suspect most people who believe it's a choice wouldn't be able to honestly answer "yes" to this question.


I have a feeling that for many of those who are most vocal on this issue, it's quite easy for them to imagine themselves being attracted to another man.
posted by EarBucket at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


But a line is crossed when it is implied that blacks as blacks should have supported proposition 8.

Is this line crossed when the subject of the linked article, who is black, makes that same implication?

Or are we crossing this line when pointing out what the subject of the article said, which is what got him in trouble with other (black) people?

I can't tell from your use of passive voice, which is why I ask.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2009


Say that anyone who is concerned with the linked story is a racist.

I will say no such thing. I am not calling anyone a racist and I have chosen my words carefully. The underlying moral issue is that of treating our fellow citizens as equals without regard for color or creed. I just think that people who frame this as a shocking ethical lapse on the part of the black community are being lazy. And to the degree to which they bray their easy equivalencies in the public square, they hurt their own cause.

Nobody likes to be treated as a member of a category, or to be told that they are a priori obliged to take a certain position.
posted by felix betachat at 3:50 PM on July 10, 2009


The minute you reference the prop 8 vote as particularly problematic for blacks as blacks, you are in dangerous territory.

When 70% of a community votes to strip rights away from gay people, it's reasonable to say that that community has a problem. When we note Roman Catholic or Mormon votes on abortion issues, for example, nobody suggests that this is the result of some kind of wild anti-catholic or anti-Mormon prejudice. Just as noting that Catholics have a very progressive record of voting on many other issues isn't the result of some kind of pro-Catholic bigotry. It's simply the recognition that a certain community has some prevailing ideological commitments, some of which are to be admired, some of which are to be deplored.

The pronounced lack of sympathy for gay rights in the African American community at large (obviously with many admirable and notable exceptions) is deplorable. The only "paternalistic" element in this discussion that I can see is the implicit claim that one mustn't say anything at all critical ever about any African American people. I'm not criticizing "blacks as blacks," I'm criticizing blacks as people--people who should: like all people support the legitimate claims to freedom and equality of all other people gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, nepalese, disabled, you name it.
posted by yoink at 3:56 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Faze is a troll.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:02 PM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


When 70% of a community votes to strip rights away from gay people, it's reasonable to say that that community has a problem. When we note Roman Catholic or Mormon votes on abortion issues, for example...

Like I noted above, this is not a racial thing. It's religion, pure and simple. To your Roman Catholic and your Mormon, add Baptist. There's your "Black" vote.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:03 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The pronounced lack of sympathy for gay rights in the African American community at large (obviously with many admirable and notable exceptions) is deplorable.

The data don't fit this statement. 70% of blacks share the opinion of most Californians. That's your problem right there.
posted by felix betachat at 4:03 PM on July 10, 2009


The two or three times I've been in a conversation with a non-white minority and have mentioned that maybe the struggles of gays are the same as the struggles of blacks or whomever, I have always been harshly rebuffed.

Next time it happens, respond with this: "Oh, you know, I just realized you're right! The two struggles *are* very different! See, when a young [insert racial minority] kid is done dealing with the horrible violence, bigotry and ignorance of the outside world at the end of a long day, s/he can come home to a community of empathetic, supportive individuals like her or him who can share strategies for dealing with the bullshit and offer unconditional love to help the kid grow and adapt to the evil outside.

But, see, when a young lesbian or gay kid comes home after a long day of dealting with hatred, bigotry and ignorance, that kid comes home to an environment where their minority status is usually deeply hidden, and in which revealing that status is likely to result in *more* violence, bigotry and ignorance directed at them in the very place where they're supposed to feel most supported and protected!

How could I have been so blind? The differences are striking!"

Let me know how that works for you.
posted by mediareport at 4:04 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Did they endure explicit second class status under the law in roughly half of the country until merely 2 generations ago?

Given that gay acts were punishable with prison terms until pretty recently, yeah. The only advantage is that if you were gay and celibate people thought you were merely mentally ill (or at least awkward), and you could pass as 'normal'. It's the old joke: Which is worse, to be gay or black... Well, if you're black you don't have to tell your parents.

To this day, even up here in liberal Canada, the blood of gay men is treated as impure as black blood donations were in times past. I suppose it's easy to forget casualties like Turing and Wilde in the face of slavery and segregation, but for a good part of recent history, at least if you were black you were allowed to exist. Forget about laws calling you a second class citizen... once upon a time being a homosexual was considered a mental illness.

Not to start the Oppression Olympics though, one of the bothering things about this blacks versus gays debate is that it's very possible to be black and gay at the same time.
posted by Phalene at 4:07 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


That does seem to be the message: that instead of addressing the message, you attack the thread itself as being racist in and of itself.

Is that an accurate assessment of where you're coming from with that comment?


No.

There's a history in the media and society in general (as attested by several links), of either blaming black people for Prop 8 passing, or looking very intently at why so many blacks voted against it.

In comparison, it's my impression that nobody is looking at Whites or Asians very hard. Hispanics seem to get a bit of scrutiny, but again, no where near as much as Blacks. Which strikes me as silly, since they're one of smallest percentages of the population in California.

It's not so much that the thread is racist, as it contains numerous and different points of view, rather it's the American fascination with "Why are Black people voting this way in huge numbers on this issue" this is racist. Blacks were expected to vote X way because others see the issue that way. People have failed to actually talked to the community on it's own terms, failed to understand where it's coming and now all of sudden want to know "But why?!" To which I reply, "What did you think was going to happen?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:09 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Faze is a troll.

To the extent that we have not seen any reply from him or her to concerns about his or her inflammatory comment, I'm inclined to agree with you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:10 PM on July 10, 2009


“But it was clear to me,” he added, “that any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have that is a clear violation of civil rights and I have to speak up on that.”

Rev. Lee is on the ball and has my support.
posted by snsranch at 4:14 PM on July 10, 2009


The data don't fit this statement. 70% of blacks share the opinion of most Californians. That's your problem right there.

Apparently you haven't examined the data.

70% of African Americans who voted on Prop 8 voted for it.

Fewer than 50% of Whites, fewer than 50% of Asians and 53% of Latinos did the same. Are you really saying that you see no notable difference whatsoever in those figures? Do you really think that no useful inferences can be drawn from those data about attitudes towards gays in those different communities?
posted by yoink at 4:17 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only "paternalistic" element in this discussion that I can see is the implicit claim that one mustn't say anything at all critical ever about any African American people.

Now you're being silly and boxing with shadows.

By all means, criticize and the black community in California deserves it, along with every other group that voted against Prop 8. Why did about half of the Asians, Hispanics and Whites vote for it? I'd love to see articles about that along articles about why the Black community voted the way it did.

From a tactical point, it seems silly to worry about the AA vote on this issue, as it's notoriously consistent in the wrong direction. Swing a few Hispanics, Whites or Asians and or a mixture of the same and things will be as they should.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:18 PM on July 10, 2009


To which I reply, "What did you think was going to happen?"

Wait--you're saying that it was completely obvious that African Americans wouldn't support Prop 8 and you're saying that it's completely unfair to suggest that African Americans have any kind of history of opposition to gay rights?
posted by yoink at 4:19 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you really think that no useful inferences can be drawn from those data about attitudes towards gays in those different communities?

Nope. Not saying that at all. In fact, I've suggested a perfectly adequate inference to be drawn from the data. I am suggesting that people who suggest that the prop 8 vote reflects some special problem within the black community or an abdication of its particular responsibility are being lazy, condescending, intimidating and/or stupid.
posted by felix betachat at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2009


People have failed to actually talked to the community on it's own terms, failed to understand where it's coming and now all of sudden want to know "But why?!" To which I reply, "What did you think was going to happen?"

The difference between understanding and supporting. We can understand the various reasons white people joined the KKK, especially back when joining the KKK was respectable (Truman, Byrd). We can understand why they join today. However, we don't support that, or excuse it. Because being a bigot against black people is wrong, no matter your history, or your reasons. It will always be wrong. You can ask "have you actually talked to KKK members on their own terms? Have you understood where they are coming from?", but at best it can tell us "why", it does not provide an excuse. Being a bigot against the gay community is wrong, no matter your history or your reasons. We can, and should learn that history. That still does not excuse the bigotry.

And again: it is about the organization and a lot of its leadership. Do we need to understand the SCLC leadership's position here? Sure - we can learn why so many of them are bigots. They are still bigots. I hope nobody here is looking to blame the black community, because that was not the focus of the post. The focus of the post was on the leadership of an organization specifically dedicated to civil rights - and of all organizations, such an organization is the one which should understand and support civil rights for all, unlike say, merely a organization dedicated to the promotion of bowling. The "black" aspect of it is virtually immaterial. The "civil rights" aspect is glaringly not.
posted by VikingSword at 4:32 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


From a tactical point, it seems silly to worry about the AA vote on this issue

From a tactical standpoint I mostly agree with you. I think that when the next proposition comes to reinstate gay marriage rights in California (I'm guessing that one will pass in the next 5-6 years), it will do so over a fairly strong "no" vote from the African American community. That community is large enough that it's worth at least trying to find the best possible pitch to make to it, but not so large that it's worth spending disproportionate campaign funds to try to turn them around. Frankly, Old Father Time is winning the campaign with ever day that passes. Every new voter who joins the rolls is heavily likely to vote for gay-marriage, every old voter who dies is heavily likely to have been anti-gay-marriage.

But I haven't been arguing about tactics, I've been arguing about what is morally right.

By all means, criticize and the black community in California deserves it, along with every other group that voted against Prop 8.

You mean "for" Prop 8 (I know, I get that mixed up all the time too). In terms of the major ethnic groups tracked in exit polls, whites and asians both voted against Prop 8. Hispanics voted against it, but only by 53 to 47 percent. In other words, the reason why you don't see discussion about "why white (or asian) people voted for Prop 8" is because they didn't. The reason you don't see all that much discussion of why Hispanic people voted for Prop 8 is because people were mostly surprised (given their Catholicism and tendency towards social conservatism) by how low their support for Prop 8 was.

Every single person who voted for Prop 8 deserves criticism. It just so happens that only one ethnic community did so in numbers so overwhelming that it suggests prevailing community norms that clearly require urgent attention; not because of any "tactical" need to turn those numbers around but simply because it is wrong for any community to harbor such widespread homophobia.
posted by yoink at 4:33 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope nobody here is looking to blame the black community, because that was not the focus of the post.

May I suggest, then, that titling it "We climbed up, time to kick the ladder away, so more can't follow us." was a bad idea?
posted by felix betachat at 4:34 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gah! for "Hispanics voted against it" substitute "Hispanics voted for it."
posted by yoink at 4:36 PM on July 10, 2009


May I suggest, then, that titling it "We climbed up, time to kick the ladder away, so more can't follow us." was a bad idea?

For an organization dedicated to civil rights? Very fitting idea, seems to me.
posted by VikingSword at 4:37 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am suggesting that people who suggest that the prop 8 vote reflects some special problem within the black community or an abdication of its particular responsibility are being lazy, condescending, intimidating and/or stupid.

Boy, you must think this guy is a real jerk, then, mustn't you:

I'm more inclined to see the disproportionate numbers as an indication that there is a latent moral cancer within the leadership of the black community, that this cancer is a lingering legacy of racism, and that the responsibility to heal it lies within the black community itself.
posted by yoink at 4:38 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am suggesting that people who suggest that the prop 8 vote reflects some special problem within the black community or an abdication of its particular responsibility are being lazy, condescending, intimidating and/or stupid.

Do you include Reverend Lee in your suggestion?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on July 10, 2009


Wait--you're saying that it was completely obvious that African Americans wouldn't support Prop 8 and you're saying that it's completely unfair to suggest that African Americans have any kind of history of opposition to gay rights?

When did I say "it's completely unfair to suggest that African Americans have any kind of history of opposition to gay rights" ?

You can ask "have you actually talked to KKK members on their own terms? Have you understood where they are coming from?", but at best it can tell us "why"

Comparing black homophobia, however wrong it is, to the group that systematically hunted and killed them doesn't work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:42 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


African Americans are, generally, very socially conservative. Socially conservative on sexuality issues, socially conservative on abortion, socially conservative on immigration, socially conservative on criminal justice. They are, generally, fiscally liberal and obviously socially liberal on matters related to their own interests, ie, civil rights for African Americans.

I said "generally."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:45 PM on July 10, 2009


My significant other is white and Jewish, but she worked for some decades at an almost-all-black school, and she'd sometimes hear anti-Semitic comments all the time, from co-workers and students and parents. She'd call people on it, because she's not one to let prejudice go on around her unhindered, but she always boggled that an ethnic group (blacks) that have clearly been mistreated would then turn around and use racist slurs against another ethnic group. She's told me that just as many blacks have an anti-Semitic streak, so too are many anti-gay. I don't really know what to make of that (lack of empathy? lack of education? something else?), but it's pretty clear that it *is* the reality, however incomprehensible it may be.
posted by jamstigator at 4:46 PM on July 10, 2009


Comparing black homophobia, however wrong it is, to the group that systematically hunted and killed them doesn't work.

When using comparison, you understand that the two things do not share all characteristics, otherwise they'd be identical.

You compare to bring out the salient characteristic. In this case - prejudice. For that purpose, the comparison works very well indeed.

Bigotry is wrong. Whether murderous or less dire - it is still wrong.
posted by VikingSword at 4:49 PM on July 10, 2009


The oppression of gays in America clearly, obviously, and indisputably is greater than that of African Americans. There is no comparison in terms of societal protection. Gays get no affirmative action, no employment discrimination protection, no housing discrimination protection, no hate crimes protection, no strict scrutiny equal-protection review, nothing. Matthew Shepard's killers weren't even convicted of real murder -- they were convicted of felony murder, which is the slap-on-the-wrist "oops you died while I was committing another felony against you" murder. Any argument that gay oppression is somehow less than black oppression is, at best, facetious.

In terms of personal attitudes, of course, neither is greater than the other. Hatred is hatred.

Mel Boozer: "I have been called a nigger and I have been called a faggot and I can describe for you the difference in the marrow of my soul. I can describe difference in one word: None."
posted by jock@law at 4:53 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


yoink, I don't see your point. In the first statement, I maintain that one ought not impose special ethical obligations on entire categories of people. In the second statement, I suggest that individual moral leaders have failed to live up to their responsibilities and that the members of the community they represent are the ones who ought to be holding them accountable.

Let me clarify further: to the degree to which the SCLC holds that all human beings possess the same fundamental human rights, then the SCLC is out of bounds here. This is so because the organization itself has made certain principles clear and can reasonably be expected to maintain those principles in all cases. It is a very different thing to talk about black people in general, as races and classes of people do not, as a rule, have similar general statements of purpose attached to them.

I'll grant that the present situation is difficult because of the slippery boundaries between members of the black community who have benefited from the advocacy of the SCLC and the SCLC, which draws the majority of its supporters from that same community. But the distinction is crucial. And, indeed, it's VikingSword's blurring of the lines between the SCLC and the black community which is the source of so much problematic ambiguity here.
posted by felix betachat at 4:56 PM on July 10, 2009


Oh and also, there is the issue of in-group versus out-group critique. As a white guy, I'm well within my rights to say things like: "Given white Americans' deplorable history of prejudice and oppression, they have a special responsibility to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians to marry." And black people have the right to critique members of their community in whatever way they see fit. But once you cross the lines, things get ugly.

Even black people who speak in categorical terms about whites as racists, or who suggest that white people as a group have a particular responsibility are on dangerous ground. Given the legacy of racism in America and its lingering effects, it isn't totally illegitimate for blacks to critique whites categorically. But such criticism is bordering on prejudicial and not likely to be as persuasive as a critique which is focused on particular individuals and their actions.
posted by felix betachat at 5:06 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lee's language is specific: there is a latent moral cancer within the leadership of the black community

as opposed to blaming the black community in general.

Apparently you haven't examined the data.
70% of African Americans who voted on Prop 8 voted for it.


57 or 58% (not incidentally, "Party identification, age, religiosity and political view had much bigger effects than race, gender or having gay and lesbian family and friends"). Still high, but less high than the initial report.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:16 PM on July 10, 2009


Sys Rq: Like I noted above, this is not a racial thing. It's religion, pure and simple. To your Roman Catholic and your Mormon, add Baptist. There's your "Black" vote.

This would be helpful if true since we could stop talking about this. Unfortunately it is not true. Black Californians were much more likely to vote for Prop 8 than white Californians of the same, uh, religiousity. You know what I mean. Non-religious black people were more likely to support prop 8 than non-religious white people. Religious black people were more likely to support prop 8 than religious white people.

In other words, both religion and ethnicity were a factor. I understand the appeal of believing it was simply a religious issue but the numbers don't back that up.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


(cybercoitus interruptus: yoink's second quote is also something I wrote, not Rev. Lee.)
posted by felix betachat at 5:18 PM on July 10, 2009


cybercoitues interruptus, that has already been addressed in the thread. The linked "study" appears to be mostly wishful thinking.

See this debunking for example.
posted by Justinian at 5:19 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I made a mistake: Non-religious black folks were significantly more likely than non-religious white folks to support prop 8 but religious black folks were slightly LESS likely than religious white folks to support it. Within the margin of error less, so roughly equal, but certainly not more as I stated before.

So the facts show that religion was actually less of a factor in terms of support for prop 8 among the black community than among the white community where it was much more strongly correlated with support or opposition.
posted by Justinian at 5:21 PM on July 10, 2009


You compare to bring out the salient characteristic. In this case - prejudice. For that purpose, the comparison works very well indeed.

Dude, the KKK was bit more than prejudice. To even compare what they did, the beatings, terrorism and lynching to black homophobia and then argue with a straight face that the comparison is totally fair and says you don't have the slightest inkling of the black community or its past or how to talk to them. Whatever point you're trying to make you are not making, it's lost somewhere back on "Black people are being like the KKK" street, whatever the hell that is.

If you're attempting to convince black people that they have wrong opinion on this issue using that argument, I'd strongly urge to try a different track. You're literally walking up to people and closing their minds for them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:29 PM on July 10, 2009


It is a matter of principle.

The distinction one can draw here is between people who have a principled stand on the issue, versus those who merely act out of self-interest and no more. Mr. Lee, is equally opposed to anti-black bigotry and anti-gay bigotry. Yes, he is black, but by extending his efforts on behalf of civil rights for people unlike himself, he has demonstrated that his position is one based on principle, not merely self-interest of the moment. In contrast, those who mount the barricades with you - shoulder to shoulder - as you fight for their rights, and when the fight is won, now suddenly will not join you in the fight for your rights, well, those folks are just in it not for the principle, but for their interests. They don't give a damn about the principle. "What is bad? When they steal a cow from me. Indeed. What is good? When I steal a cow from them. I see."

Have you ever been in that situation, when you join a "friend" in his fight for fairness at work (or wherever), and then when the time comes for him to return the favor, suddenly he gets this vague look in his eye, there is a lot of hemming and shifting, and a sickening sensation rises in your throat, as you realize - "this is no friend"?

That's how this feels. The guys you joined in solidarity, who so strongly defend their interests, so vocally, so clearly - why, what happened... suddenly so full of excuses, explanations, and extenuating circumstances when asked to join your fight. The cries of principle still ring in the air, but there's a sudden squeal as mouths shut and gazes are averted.

And then there is Mr. Lee. I salute him. I do not salute those, who are full of excuses. Wrong is wrong, and it needs to be denounced clearly, unambiguously and without reservation, particularly if it comes from your allies or organization.
posted by VikingSword at 5:34 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


quin: Hmm. I never thought about it like this before; it's a lifestyle choice, huh?

Someone should ask people who think this way if, since it's a choice, they could choose to be gay.


A bit off-topic from the spirited debate ongoing, but this reminded me of my high school. I was amazed at the time (ten years ago) how many people there - good people, thoughtful people - had never examined so many of their core assumptions. I got in arguments with the teachers constantly. Once I used this very same argument against the Biology teacher as we discussed the relative sinfulness of homosexuality. It stopped him dead in his tracks. He opened his mouth to respond and just kind of paused, then said, "You know, I never thought of it like that before."

Now, being entrenched in the culture of a private Christian school, all I managed was to elicit an agreement that homosexuality was something to be compassionate toward rather than harshly judgmental on the grounds that they couldn't help being that way, but at least it was something. Smug pity is at least less overtly hateful than raging against the "perverts."

The time I had to defend D&D in History class, though...
posted by Scattercat at 5:39 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


yoink, I don't see your point.

Try looking at the two uses of the word "responsibility" in my post.

You, a white-person-who-must-not-say-anything-about-the-responsibilities-of-black-people, are saying that the black community has a "responsibility" to rein in their leaders who, somehow, are the only ones who have suffered from the "moral cancer" caused by the experience of oppression.

Of course, it's a bit odd that these followers who are completely and utterly unaffected by this "moral cancer" are, at the same time, quite willing to be lead astray by their moral-cancer-ridden leaders and utterly incapable of exerting the pressure upon them that is their "responsibility" (your word, not mine) to exert.

Or perhaps, you know, these are widely (though obviously not universally) shared community norms and it's the responsibility of all people--white, black, latino, asian, american indian etc.--to decry these norms as unacceptable and morally wrong?
posted by yoink at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2009


Religious groups are specifically exempt from civil rights legislation in employment and education.
posted by eccnineten at 5:44 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude, the KKK was bit more than prejudice. To even compare what they did, the beatings, terrorism and lynching to black homophobia and then argue with a straight face that the comparison is totally fair and says you don't have the slightest inkling of the black community or its past or how to talk to them. Whatever point you're trying to make you are not making, it's lost somewhere back on "Black people are being like the KKK" street, whatever the hell that is.

That's very poor quality misdirection, and it is not going to work. What I wrote is very clear, and anyone is welcome to look at what I actually wrote - I was not comparing the actions the KKK toward blacks with the actions of blacks toward gays. That is your misdirection. I was addressing your point that somehow we have to "understand" the prejudiced part of a community (black, gay, asian, white or whatever) as if that had any bearing on the fact that the prejudice is there in the first place. Just as we don't scream "speak to the KKK members on their own terms", we shouldn't make the same demands for homophobes (of whatever color). There is only one set of terms: cut that shit out.

If you're attempting to convince black people that they have wrong opinion on this issue using that argument, I'd strongly urge to try a different track. You're literally walking up to people and closing their minds for them.

Actually, I'm not attempting to "convince black people" of anything. I'm expecting and demanding that an organization whose entire foundation and existence is dedicated to civil rights, not fight to deny civil rights to people other than themselves. I hope that's not expecting too much. Oh, and I don't care if that organization is black, asian, white, gay or straight.
posted by VikingSword at 5:50 PM on July 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


"See, black people oppress homosexuals like this, and white people oppress homosexuals like this..."
posted by Rangeboy at 5:53 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


African Americans are, generally, very socially conservative. Socially conservative on sexuality issues, socially conservative on abortion, socially conservative on immigration, socially conservative on criminal justice. They are, generally, fiscally liberal and obviously socially liberal on matters related to their own interests, ie, civil rights for African Americans.

I don't even know what to do with this set of generalizations of generalizations. The fact that the black community tends to be more socially conservative on certain issues within your vast categories is moot due to the undercurrent of ick in this comment.
posted by desuetude at 6:12 PM on July 10, 2009


Wow, yoink, checkmate. You really nailed me. I guess now if I say that I meant something like: the elective responsibility of the black community to call their leaders to account should they choose to do so, I'll look like a real weasel.

Obviously it's the right and responsibility of all people to point out instances of prejudice and hatred where they occur. I've not disputed that anywhere. And saying that a particular black leader who supported prop 8 is an intolerant asshole is anyone's right. But, again, trafficking in cheap moral opprobrium against blacks people generally the basis of some special expectation that blacks must stand for equal rights at all times is illegitimate and likely to be unconvincing. Trying to comprehend the data in strategic, in historical or in sociological terms is likely to be much more effective. I've maintained that position consistently throughout this conversation, infelicities in my language notwithstanding.

Anyway, it was nice chatting with you.
posted by felix betachat at 6:15 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, a lot of white people feel the black community owes something, huh? Cool.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:54 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Faze is a troll.

To the extent that we have not seen any reply from him or her to concerns about his or her inflammatory comment, I'm inclined to agree with you.


Sorry, I had to run out... But my remark certainly wasn't meant to be inflammatory. It was meant to imply that this may be an issue upon which men and women of good will can disagree without one or the other party being cast into the outer darkness. Prop 8 wasn't a referendum on the morality of homosexuality. It was a referendum on a specific legal issue. The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights in other matters, and their opinion on this issue deserves our respect, if not our agreement.
posted by Faze at 6:55 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by Faze The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights in other matters, and their opinion on this issue deserves our respect, if not our agreement.

In this case, their opinion is wrong, and is undeserving of respect.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:59 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me think about that for a minute, Faze... nope. Nope, I still don't respect the opinion that we should enshrine gays-as-second-class-citizens in the constitution of the state of California. Bigotry is bigotry whether it comes from some guy in a white sheet or from His Holiness the Pope to everybody in between. Whether or not they fought to gain equal rights for black folks in the past.
posted by Justinian at 7:04 PM on July 10, 2009


The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights in other matters, and their opinion on this issue deserves our respect, if not our agreement.

What, again, is their opinion? As far as I know, they have issued no statement. Do you have a link?
posted by hippybear at 7:10 PM on July 10, 2009


I don't even know what to do with this set of generalizations of generalizations. The fact that the black community tends to be more socially conservative on certain issues within your vast categories is moot due to the undercurrent of ick in this comment.

The ick hurts.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:14 PM on July 10, 2009


The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights in other matters, and their opinion on this issue deserves our respect, if not our agreement.

They haven't demonstrated a committment to civil rights. They have demonstrated a committment to civil rights for blacks. Their committment is sorely lacking when it comes to civil rights for groups they don't belong to.
posted by rocket88 at 7:23 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Faze said: The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights in other matters, and their opinion on this issue deserves our respect, if not our agreement.

This is not Iran. They are not the Mujtahid. This is not the Revolution you're looking for.

Their opinion means piffle all to me. In fact, I can't think of a single person/group of people in the entire world who has an opinion that I think should outweigh basic common sense.

Civil Rights means EVERYONE. Even if they bump uglies using methodologies of which you disapprove. Doesn't matter. Their uglies don't come into their standing as humans...all humans are deserving of the same rights.

To even claim that our friends, our family, and in some mefi cases, our loves and spouses, should be willing to accept second class rights, and be willing to sit only in the back seat of the cultural bus, because some crusty old dudes said so...is patently absurd. And to demand that the rest of us respect those who promote "back of the bus", is obscene.

That this "civil rights" group can take this position, and force out dissenting voices, proves, unilaterally proves that these people are not advocates for "civil rights"; they were fighting for Black rights. Which is all well and good. Someone needed too. It had to be done, and the leaders of that movement were brilliant and beautiful at doing it. There is nothing wrong with being the leader of a Black Rights movement.

But that doesn't make these men "civil rights" leaders, if they aren't willing to fight for civil rights for Everyone. If they turn their backs on the struggles and travails of those who are still oppressed, if they suggest that it's only right that those people should be struggling, if they eliminate the voices that say that the struggle is not over...then they forfeit the right to be called "civil rights leaders".
posted by dejah420 at 7:34 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


their opinion on this issue deserves our respect

No, it emphatically doesn't. It deserves opprobrium. It deserves scorn. It deserves to be pointed out as being logically inconsistent with a desire for equality. It deserves to be compared to Coretta Scott King's statements and found wanting.

a lot of white people feel the black community owes something

I don't know about that. As a white gay man, I hope that black people might have a bit more empathy with others who are treated as second-class citizens, but that's about it. And I don't blame black people as a group for Prop 8. I think there's plenty of blame to go around - a great deal of it on the ineptitude of the anti-Prop 8 campaign.

And I don't want to equate the struggles of gays and blacks for equal rights. While black people are protected under the law, they still face all sorts of discrimination; while I'm not as protected under the law, I'm not discriminated against on a daily basis.

But this thread isn't really about the black community, it's about an organization whose raison d'etre is civil rights, and how it wants to get rid of someone within their organization who disagrees with them on this issue. I don't need to criticize the black community, but I will certainly criticize the self-appointed leaders of that community as appropriate.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:35 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ignore the troll. This is just an opportunity for him and his buds to do a little "BAW HAW HAW WHERE IS YOUR LIBURL SOLIDARITY NOW?!?!?!! I THOUGHT YOU ALWAYZ AGREED WITH TEH BLACKS?!??! LOLBURLS!!!!!111"
posted by Avenger at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2009


Just because someone disagrees with you doesn' t mean they're wrong. They just disagree with you. I don't necessarily agree with the SCLC, but I don't think they're "wrong" in the sense that they wish to willfully deprive anyone of their rights. They just don't think same sex marriage is a "right." That's an opinion that can be held by non-homophobic men and women of intelligence and good will. Not everybody who disagrees with you is the devil.
posted by Faze at 7:47 PM on July 10, 2009


And an organization, founded to fight for civil rights, is disgracefully hypocritical if they refuse to recognize the civil rights of anyone other than themselves. They lose all moral authority, because then they become merely advocates for themselves. OF COURSE you are going to be advocates for yourselves - everyone is; you gain no moral authority from merely being an advocate for your own interests. So, you, hallowed civil rights organization, are "officially" neutral on the key civil rights issue of our time in this country? You are no longer a civil rights organization - you are merely an advocacy group. Like any other.

Honestly, this statement from higher above is by far the most salient and relevant comment in the thread about the topic at hand.

As for all the noise, I wish people would just fix an ideal in their mind, a place that they feel all people should get to, and then feel comfortable supporting anyone's attempts to get to that ideal place, regardless of how far away they are from it, and without feeling the need to compare one person's position to another's. Everyone who hasn't reached the ideal (in this conversation, equal civil rights in the eyes of the law) deserves help in getting to that point, and wasting time squabbling over whose golf ball is furthest/closest to the cup or needs to travel over the toughest lie to get there is a pointless waste of time for all concerned.
posted by davejay at 7:53 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what have we learned here? Allow me to summarize:

1. Expecting an organization to live up to its history and stated principles is paternalism.

2. Observing that a demographic group votes in a certain way to a statistically significant, much larger percentage than other demographic groups is forbidden. Unless you're a member of that demographic group. In which case you can simply dismiss the math and wonder suggestively at why people would even be interested.

3. When someone espouses a bigoted stance, any discussion of the morality of that stance is forbidden. You are only allowed to talk about the practicality and tactics of how to convince them out of their view. If you cannot come up with a tactically effective method for doing so, then no argument about the underlying morality of their action is allowed to be discussed.


So, when do we get to have that "real conversation about race" that everybody says they'd like to have? Maybe right after we get to have a real conversation about gay rights. Sometime in that golden utopian future when people realize that all people are deserving of the blessings of liberty and stop making excuses for people who stand in the way of true equality.
posted by darkstar at 7:56 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was meant to imply that this may be an issue upon which men and women of good will can disagree without one or the other party being cast into the outer darkness. Prop 8 wasn't a referendum on the morality of homosexuality.

I'd like to introduce you to the people who fought for Prop 8, on the basis that the queers were corrupting their children, and that Prop 8 would force schools to teach homosexual behavior in the classrooms. Prop 8 certainly was a referendum on faggots corrupting society.

There's not much of a grey area about equality under law. If you supported Prop 8, you're a bigot, plain and simple. Rationalize support for Prop 8 all you please, you're still a bigot. That includes that sad, despicable part of the African-American community that saw fit to vote to take away rights from their fellow Americans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:00 PM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Finally, I am often encouraged by the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

The leadership of the SCLC may be standing in the way of equality for gay people, but as others in this thread have pointed out, theirs is a dying proposition.

We shall overcome.
posted by darkstar at 8:18 PM on July 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't necessarily agree with the SCLC, but I don't think they're "wrong" in the sense that they wish to willfully deprive anyone of their rights.

they want to deprive someone of their position in their organization because he has spoken for someone's rights

They just don't think same sex marriage is a "right."

i see no possible interpretation of equality for all that would not make it a right - i also utterly fail to see why it's yours or any else's business who someone else marries
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Listen, these black people have worked hard to build their very own swim club. They don't need a bunch of gays changing the complexion of the pool!
posted by orme at 8:30 PM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


They don't need a bunch of gays changing the complexion of the pool!

You mean orientation of the pool. What if it points to the grave of MLK?
posted by VikingSword at 8:42 PM on July 10, 2009


The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights in other matters, and their opinion on this issue deserves our respect

Their opinion on this issue betrays their selfishness, their hypocrisy and their inability to absorb Dr. King's teachings. It deserves no respect.

They just don't think same sex marriage is a "right." That's an opinion that can be held by non-homophobic men and women of intelligence and good will.

No, it's not.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:14 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I somehow managed to delete the first sentece of my reply:

The greybeards of the SCLC they have a demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights for themselves.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:17 PM on July 10, 2009


I don't think they're "wrong" in the sense that they wish to willfully deprive anyone of their rights. They just don't think same sex marriage is a "right."

And many white people didn't think that integration was a "right." Separate but equal is ok if it's equal, right? Why should you have the "right" to a job working for me if I don't like the color of your skin?

That's an opinion that can be held by non-homophobic men and women of intelligence and good will.

Good will toward whom? Not toward me. If you tell me that my relationship of over 20 years is less deserving of recognition by the secular state than these because of the little dangly bits we have, I cannot accept that as "good will."
posted by me & my monkey at 9:41 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why should you have the "right" to a job working for me if I don't like the color of your skin?

Few, if any, Libertarians recognize the right of workers to not be discriminated against in hiring based on their skin color.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:56 PM on July 10, 2009


their opinion on this issue deserves our respect

No it doesn't. Fuck 'em. Who the hell are they? Why should I "respect" these folk?
posted by ericb at 10:13 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


their opinion on this issue deserves our respect

On the other hand I respect the opinion of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and that of his wife.
posted by ericb at 10:22 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I find the content of their character lacking.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:45 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


70% of 6.3% is 4.4% of a population known to be strongly against the issue.

No, 70% is 70% of a population known to be strongly against the issue (i.e. African Americans in California). It's also 70% of what was in fact 10% of the total votes cast on Proposition 8 (black voters voted disproportionately on Prop 8 compared to their representation in the general population). It is thus 7% of a population (California's) that passed Proposition 8 by 52.24%. Or, in other words, if that 70/30 split had been reversed, Proposition 8 would have been defeated--handily.


If you read all the problems with the single exit poll done by CNN from which your data is taken, you'd know that your numbers are not making any sense. CNN used a very small sample, 2,240. Nearly 14 million people in California voted. This sample did not take into account any mail in votes- 3,000,000 million absentee votes were cast in the state. They also used a sample that was not weighted according to the racial makeup of voters in the state- 6% of California voters are black, not 10%.

The "debunking" on Box Turtle is also completely flawed- that author apparently has no grasp of mathematics. The first chart he critiques on the basis of the black line not being at the level he thinks it should be- I see what he's saying- it looks like the mean smoother should be higher, but it looks like that across the chart. Without having a better chart it's hard to say, but the point of that data is to show that voters for prop 8 is most extreme at both ends, majority white precincts and majority black. Even more significant, though there is a gradually higher vote for prop 8 in precincts with greater numbers of African Americans, it is nowhere near 70%. In fact, it's about 58%.

His other debunking shows an even bigger problem with math: you can't just try to average the column on the right without recognizing that those numbers are percentages of different sized populations. Pretend the percentages are just numbers of people: 68 white voters, 7 African Americans, 14 Hispanics, 7 Asians (and 4 "other"). Now take the percentage of people from those gropus that voted YES: 49% of 68, for example, is 33 people. 58 percent of 7 people is about 4, 59% of 14 is 8, 48% of 7 is about 3. We can say 50% of "other" voted YES, just for fun. Add up those YES voters, and you get about 50 or so of all voters voting YES. So the data works, Box Turtle just can't do math.

He also complains about the people he got the study from: NGTLF "Now, I’ve long since come to see the NGLTF as more of an agent of spin than an advocate for honesty so it didn’t surprise me much that their report seemed more appropriate on the stage of a prestidigitator than in a news report." NGTLF did not do the study, did not even commission the study, they just posted it. Conflating the people that post the data with the people that did the study (NYU and CUNY), is just plain sloppy journalism.

So, bottom line, read the PDF of the study. They actually collected polls from before and after the election that seem to show the NEP study (where CNN got its data) as quite the outlier. If you look at the CNN numbers, they show 75% of Black women voting YES. Which means that 65% of Black men voted YES (weirdly, they don't have these numbers). Now, does that make sense to you? That far more African American women voted YES than African American men? Even though every other race had much closer percentages, with women voting YES a percentage point of two below men? That's just looking at CNN's own data.

Harping on the 70% number from one single, possibly flawed exit poll seems like a poor argument. Even beginning statistics students know better than to put all their trust in one poll, especially one of such a small sample size. Nate Silver makes the argument that what really mattered was age:

Exit polls suggest that first-time voters -- the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama (he won 83 percent [!] of their votes) -- voted against Prop 8 by a 62-38 margin. More experienced voters voted for the measure 56-44, however, providing for its passage.

So I would say that that's a big part of what is going on with the SCLC. Not the only thing, of course, but maybe we should be talking about bridging generational gaps.

One other thing: Jews/Palestinians- both oppressed, yet neither side generally can empathize with each other to the point where they work stuff out. I'm not sure why people always expect that oppressed people are any different than other people in that respect. Here in California, Irish people that left the anti-Irish north east were highly political, and extremely anti-Chinese. California had the first anti-immigration law in the US largely due to a previously "oppressed" minority. I wouldn't think there is something extraordinary about certain members of the African American community not empathizing with the desire of gay people to get married.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:02 AM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I support the SCLC on this. I mean, it's not like those horrid Negroes can legally marry white people. That would be unnatural, and I'm sure Jesus would hate on that too.
posted by orthogonality at 12:05 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ummm...

I think I remember learning in Diversity class or whatever it was called back in the day that expecting anything of anyone because of the color of their skin is, in fact, racist. And I mean, in this context, that viewpoint makes pretty good sense. Imagine that you're a black dude in California, doing whatever black things you spend all your black time doing with your blacky, blacky day. I doubt you spend most of your time thanking your lucky black stars that you're FREE AT LAST. Black people don't spend their days sitting around watching Amistad and marching for civil rights and thanking JFK.

No, see, the whole idea of civil rights is that, once you have them, you have time for more interesting, non-identity based things like going to the bank, running to and fro in the rat race (being black sure doesn't make a crappy job suck less), drinking at water fountains, sitting at cafes with white people, riding the bus around, all kinds of fun stuff that people with legs and hands and brains do.

Which makes blacks no more of a likely ally in the fight for homosexual rights than...y'know...your mom. And if your mom's quilting club that donates to the local food shelter is trying to get certain lascivious books pulled from the library, and your mom says maybe they shouldn't, then kudos to your mom and fuck her bigoted friends in the quilting club.

As for mentioning that blacks voted in higher numbers than other racial groups for proposition 8, well, that does bear mentioning, and maybe even the irony of that statistic bears mentioning (although I really think it's best left unsaid in a thorny debate like this, because it can't fucking help). But it also bears mentioning that that statistic has jack all to do with history and everything to do with current cultural trends. I won't go into it, because I'm not an anthropologist and don't want to stoke the fire here, but I'm sure we can all imagine reasons within the black community that might push them in a socially conservative direction.

The point is, discrimination and slavery are over. A black person, ideally, to be credited with the same types of motivation and judged with the same moral standard that I, in all my whiteness, am to be judged. A club of bigots is a club of bigots, no matter what color they are. So fuck these guys.
posted by saysthis at 12:38 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd say "out" gays are treated worse than racial minorities throughout most of the world. You know, the KKK didn't lynch blacks unless they were "out" wanting civil rights, better jobs, etc. either. It's true gays have gained considerable ground, but we didn't ignore miscegenation laws after blacks gained some ground either. p.s. nice quotes ericb!
posted by jeffburdges at 12:51 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


oneirodynia: Even more significant, though there is a gradually higher vote for prop 8 in precincts with greater numbers of African Americans, it is nowhere near 70%. In fact, it's about 58%.

You're begging the question. The entire point is that he's rejecting the 58% number. IF you accept their running-mean smoother then the 58% looks accurate. But you can't take that as a given; the whole point is that their running mean out on the right edge looks dodgy at best. We need the raw data to get the real numbers. It doesn't look like 70% to me but it sure looks higher than 58%

So you can't say "he's wrong that the mean isn't 58% because the mean is 58%!" when the entire problem is the 58% number.

His other debunking shows an even bigger problem with math: you can't just try to average the column on the right without recognizing that those numbers are percentages of different sized populations ... Add up those YES voters, and you get about 50 or so of all voters voting YES.

He knows that or he's an idiot. You do get to abut 51% or so of all voters voting yes. The real number, however, was 52.3%. Which is about what you get if you figure 70% of black voters voted YES rather than 58%. Of course these numbers have error bars big enough to make these sorts of calculations so dubious as to be nearly worthless, but that's a different problem than accusing him of not knowing math. He is correct about the math; you get MUCH closer to the true figure of 52.3% yes if you take the black YES figure as 70% and not 58%. But as I said the error bars render this sort of analysis very difficult.

The real issue is the mean they give as 58%. Like I said we need the real data to know if that is accurate. It doesn't look like it from the chart but who knows.

But when it comes down to brass tax I don't really care if the number is 60% or 70%. It's disgraceful either way. And, yes, it's also disgraceful that 49% of white people and 48% of asian people voted yes. But not recognizing that there is a significant difference between a slight majority opposing something bad (49% no on prop 8) and a big majority (somewhere between 58-70% yes on prop 8) is unhelpful.
posted by Justinian at 12:56 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


ugh, I meant 49% yes on prop 8 for white people, not 49% no. Too many yesses and nos in that post in different contexts.
posted by Justinian at 12:59 AM on July 11, 2009


oneirodynia: Last one, I promise. There is actually what I consider a fairly serious flaw in the report we're talking about that the guy at that site didn't even mention. They only look at voters in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco counties and take it as a given that these voters do not skew significantly from the black voters who don't live in those counties. Which strikes me as utterly ridiculous and patently absurd. Do white voters in San Francisco vote the same way as white voters out in the boonies? Do white voters in Los Angeles county vote exactly the same way as white voters out in the boonies? No, they don't.

Taking only the black voters in those counties is a way to cherry pick the data. The 1/3 or more of black voters who live in more rural areas are virtually certain to have voted YES on prop 8 at a higher rate than the black voters who live in the urban centers.
posted by Justinian at 1:05 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I support the SCLC on this. I mean, it's not like those horrid Negroes can legally marry white people. That would be unnatural, and I'm sure Jesus would hate on that too.

This shit is not fucking cute or clever.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:56 AM on July 11, 2009


I guess there is no link to a statement on the position of the SCLC about gay marriage. Funny, I thought we were told twice that we should be reading that and listening to it and paying attention with respect.

Oh, that's right. That advice was from the troll.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2009


A brief comment about the comparison with the KKK. They did not systematically hunt and kill all blacks, just the ones that didn't know their place (in the back of the bus). Anti-gay bigots don't hunt and kill all gays, just the ones who don't know their place (in the closet). As for the "my persecution is worse than yours", remember where the pink triangle originated. Bigotry is bigotry and it's wrong. For combination points check out Loving vs Virginia (1967!) which overturned the Racial Integrity Act of 1924.
posted by whatever at 9:18 AM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


A brief comment about the comparison with the KKK. They did not systematically hunt and kill all blacks, just the ones that didn't know their place (in the back of the bus). Anti-gay bigots don't hunt and kill all gays, just the ones who don't know their place (in the closet).

It's also worth mentioning that the KKK didn't only systematically hunt and kill black people who exhibited behavior that indicated they didn't "know their place," but also black people who were rumored to have exhibited such behavior. And plenty of gay men are beaten up for making passes or advances they never made. So yeah, you're right -- nobody wins in a game of compare-the-oppression.

But all this is not really relevant to the initial KKK reference, which was not a comparison of black people to the Klan. It was an illustration to indicate the difference between understanding someone's motivations and excusing their actions.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2009


If you read all the problems with the single exit poll done by CNN from which your data is taken, you'd know that your numbers are not making any sense. CNN used a very small sample, 2,240. Nearly 14 million people in California voted.

Population size is almost completely irrelevant to the utility of a sample. 2240 is as good as sample of 100000 as it is 10000000 as it is 1000000000000000000000000000000.

The problem isn't that there were 14 million voters. The problem is that a sample of 2240 gives you a sample of black respondents of only 150-250 (unless they oversampled black respondents). And the margins of error for a sample that small are rather wider than for the full sample of 2240.

(Unless they meant that their sample of black respondents was 2240 in an overall sample of 20000 or so)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:46 AM on July 11, 2009


What I wrote is very clear, and anyone is welcome to look at what I actually wrote - I was not comparing the actions the KKK toward blacks with the actions of blacks toward gays. I was addressing your point that somehow we have to "understand" the prejudiced part of a community (black, gay, asian, white or whatever) as if that had any bearing on the fact that the prejudice is there in the first place. Just as we don't scream "speak to the KKK members on their own terms", we shouldn't make the same demands for homophobes (of whatever color). There is only one set of terms: cut that shit out.

Very nicely written, very passionate, but you're not going to get anywhere by telling black people to "cut that shit out". That rarely works with any adults, but it does make the speaker feel good.

I know you don't think the comparision of the KKK and black homophobes is offensive and makes sense, but frankly, if you're going to make the argument to a black person or group, you're not going to be taken very seriously. I get that you're not comparing them directly, that "It was an illustration to indicate the difference between understanding someone's motivations and excusing their actions." I'm advising you that the illustration is less clear than you think, that understanding why the black community is more homophobic than other communities is vastly different from understanding why the KKK thought lynching blacks were acceptable. If you're going to insist the comparison is fair and works, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I'm expecting and demanding that an organization whose entire foundation and existence is dedicated to civil rights, not fight to deny civil rights to people other than themselves. I hope that's not expecting too much.

They don't see it as an issue of civil rights, so you can expect and demand all you want, but you're still not getting what you want. You can argue that line of thought is wrong or insane all you want, but as long as you do, Prop 8 style legislation is still going to pass. Listening and understanding as to why the organization doesn't view it as an issue of civil rights would enable you to present the same argument in way that is more acceptable to said organization and perhaps garner their support for getting gay marriage legal in California.

To me that's the fundamental disconnect here. Some are arguing that gay marriage is an issue of civil rights and are upset that a civil rights organization is trying to remove the President of its Los Angeles chapter for supporting gay marriage. I happen to agree with that view and think Rev. Lee is hero for doing what he's doing. But that doesn't change the fact that SCLC, like much of the black clergy, probably doesn't view it as a civil rights issue. Yet the pro-gay marriage side still wants to argue that it's a civil rights issue. Ok, but that's not really accomplishing anything, it's just each side staking out their view and nobody moving forward to a greater understanding. If that's what you want, keep the status quo, but if you want to change things, trying a different tactic would probably help.

This is one of the times were I think the black community needs to be ignored. The percentages for passing Prop 8 was so close, it strikes me as insane and tactically stupid to be obsessing over a group that is known for being strongly anti-gay marriage. Concentrate on those groups more open to the idea and win and worry, if you want, about the homophobes later.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you read all the problems with the single exit poll done by CNN from which your data is taken,

There was no CNN exit poll. The exit poll was by Edison/Mitofsky on behalf of the National Election Pool.

Conflating the people that post the data with the people that did the study (NYU and CUNY), is just plain sloppy journalism.

The PDF of the released study to which he links says on its title page "Released under the auspices of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force." You are right that they do not, in fact, seem to have commissioned the study, but it was hardly "sloppy journalism" to be confused by that claim. Frankly, I have no idea what "released under the auspices" means there.
posted by yoink at 11:58 AM on July 11, 2009


Population size is almost completely irrelevant to the utility of a sample. 2240 is as good as sample of 100000 as it is 10000000 as it is 1000000000000000000000000000000.

First of all, that not true at all. As sample sizes get larger, they get better. But they get better asymptotically, so a 2240 sample size is pretty good, and you can get something like a +/-3% margin of error. I don't remember the exact formula, but a sample size of one hundred thousand would be a lot better, and a sample size of ten million would actually be even better. (And the margin of error in polling is much higher then it would be with 'pure' sampling you can do when you're doing, for example, medical testing or engineering analysis)

That 3% can matter, certainly in the U.S. elections are often very close, and prop 8 was a very close decision as well.

But beyond that, as sample sizes get smaller they get bad quickly. A sample size of ten would be terrible. And since blacks only make up 6.3% of the population, that means only about 140 or so black people would have been sampled. And that's a terrible sample size. In other words, when it comes to the bogus "70% of blacks voted against prop 8" the sample size was not 2240.

(In fact, that you seem to think it was is surprisingly moronic)

And there are a lot of problems with getting accurate exit polls as well. Unlike a phone poll, they can't be done in a way that's spread out geographically. Basically random people are hired to sit outside polling places and ask people how they voted. Not everyone wants to answer, and there's a huge selection bias in terms of who gets asked. They're only asked at a few polling stations, so huge geographic swaths are completely ignored.

If one of the exit polls had been done at an area that had a lot of anti-gay bigotry and a lot of black people, that would seriously skew the results.

I think later polling specifically of African Americans turned up a much lower percentage who supported prop 8. And I've also seen some analysis a while ago showing it still would have passed even if every single black person had stayed home.
posted by delmoi at 12:00 PM on July 11, 2009


The problem isn't that there were 14 million voters. The problem is that a sample of 2240 gives you a sample of black respondents of only 150-250 (unless they oversampled black respondents). And the margins of error for a sample that small are rather wider than for the full sample of 2240.

(Unless they meant that their sample of black respondents was 2240 in an overall sample of 20000 or so)


Er, okay I got confused reading this thread. You're right. My earlier comment was incorrect. Sorry!
posted by delmoi at 12:03 PM on July 11, 2009


Oh and of course, the real reason why Prop 8 passed was that the No campaign was terrible. Interestingly, the yes on 8 Campaign did a huge amount of outreach in minority communities. No on 8 didn't do anything. There was zero get out the vote. etc.
posted by delmoi at 12:08 PM on July 11, 2009


"And there are a lot of problems with getting accurate exit polls as well ... there's a huge selection bias in terms of who gets asked."

Um. No. That's not how exit polling works. If anyone with any semblance of intelligence is organizing the exit polling, then there's an interval that you absolutely must stick to. Every nth person out the door of the polling location is approached. Effective exit polling covers the entire area being polled as well.

Admittedly, with state-wide figures, organizing something like that would be very difficult. So I can imagine some selection bias regarding in what communities polling takes place. But not who, among people at a given polling location, is asked.
posted by jock@law at 12:28 PM on July 11, 2009


Um. No. That's not how exit polling works. If anyone with any semblance of intelligence is organizing the exit polling, then there's an interval that you absolutely must stick to. Every nth person out the door of the polling location is approached.

But every Nith person will refuse to answer your questions on various grounds. And that refusal can trend along lines that skew the polls.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:56 PM on July 11, 2009


But every Nith person will refuse to answer your questions on various grounds. And that refusal can trend along lines that skew the polls.

That wouldn't make a difference. As long as there's no correlation between the selection method and the voter's preference, it wouldn't be a problem. Asking more tall people would result in asking more men, which would give you more "republican" results, for example. But simply asking every 'N' people, even if your count gets out of phase wouldn't be a problem. Asking every N people isn't random anyway, but it's good enough.

Anyway, I've read accounts of some exit polling on a political blog at some point, and they said it was pretty chaotic and careless. So it's hardly a given that the poll will be run by "anyone with any semblance of intelligence". Or someone who actually cares, since obviously the results don't matter: No one does anything important with them, there just filler for CNN and other 24hr news channels to kill time.
posted by delmoi at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2009


Asking more tall people would result in asking more men, which would give you more "republican" results, for example. But simply asking every 'N' people, even if your count gets out of phase wouldn't be a problem. Asking every N people isn't random anyway, but it's good enough.

If poor people are 50% more likely to refuse to answer your questions (because they have to get back to work), then asking every Nth person is not representative. Or at least the numbers must then be weighted.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:30 PM on July 11, 2009


I'm advising you that the illustration is less clear than you think, that understanding why the black community is more homophobic than other communities is vastly different from understanding why the KKK thought lynching blacks were acceptable. If you're going to insist the comparison is fair and works, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I'm actually not focusing on the fact that "the black community is more homophobic than other communities". Any homophobia is objectionable - whether it's the minority of the community or majority, whether it's black, white, asian or whatever. The numbers are not the issue (to me).

And yes, the reasons for the hatred of the KKK is different from the reasons for homophobia from any community (I'm not focusing on the black community specifically). That's obvious - otherwise the two would be identical. What both share though, is that both are animated by prejudice. This is indisputable. Other similarities are disputable, but fortunately, I don't claim them, so this can be laid to rest. If we can't agree at least on the fact that it is prejudice that's at bottom of both, then indeed, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

They [SCLC] don't see it as an issue of civil rights, so you can expect and demand all you want, but you're still not getting what you want. [...]

But that doesn't change the fact that SCLC, like much of the black clergy, probably doesn't view it as a civil rights issue.


Oh, I get that. And I got it when various organizations back in the day claimed that black people were not fighting for civil rights, because they were less than human so civil rights didn't apply to them. Bigots never seem to recognize the claims to rights of anybody whom they are against. That's not exactly new. So what are we arguing about? That somehow in this case, the SCLC for some mysterious reason should get a pass on this bigotry, which pass we would not grant to anti-black bigots? Because I don't see why. Merely saying that they don't recognize your struggle for civil rights as a civil rights struggle doesn't cut it, whether it's against blacks, or gays, or blacks who happen to be gay. Wrong is wrong - whatever lame excuse for bigotry is provided by the bigots (as in the article you linked to).

This is one of the times were I think the black community needs to be ignored. The percentages for passing Prop 8 was so close, it strikes me as insane and tactically stupid to be obsessing over a group that is known for being strongly anti-gay marriage. Concentrate on those groups more open to the idea and win and worry, if you want, about the homophobes later.

Unlike perhaps some other posters, I was actually not focusing on the black community. I was focusing on the SCLC as a civil rights organization. That they happen to be black was totally incidental to me. Had they been Asian, my position would be identical. Same for white, Jewish, gay, straight, or whatever. Identical. I don't think anybody should get a free pass here.

A civil rights organization is unlike a bowling association or other kinds of organizations. If a bowling association doesn't recognize black/gay/asian/whatever people's civil rights, it's quite reprehensible. If an organization whose entire existence is built around the fight for civil rights does not recognize the civil rights of black/gay/asian/whatever people, that's especially noteworthy. Back in the day, pre-60's, had a bowling association not recognized the black struggle as a civil rights fight, the SCLC would take note. Had however a civil rights organization done the same, the response would be much stronger - because ignorance from a bowling association regarding anything other than bowling would be regrettable, but ignorance and bigotry from a civil rights organization with regard to civil rights is uniquely reprehensible.
posted by VikingSword at 4:03 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


saysthis nailed it. The idea that all struggles for civil rights are fundamentally related in some way is essentially a white-liberal idea (which does not make it wrong). In general, groups who have fought for their own civil rights throughout history have never thought of their struggle as comparable to the struggles of others. Sixteenth-century Protestants, Puritans, American revolutionaries, Jacksonian populists, many abolitionists, Italian and Irish activists, suffragettes: each one of these groups broke free of one kind of oppression only to impose it on another group. Nothing particularly surprising about that--and so it makes as little sense to specifically call the SCLC out for its opposition to gay rights as it does to call the Democratic Party out for supporting slavery in the nineteenth century. People defend their own interests, and to many of them it's a zero-sum game.
posted by nasreddin at 5:52 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't necessarily mean "white-liberal" idea in a pejorative way, either. The reason that this aspect is important is that the white liberals who worked with the civil rights movement, the men who fought for women's suffrage, the white abolitionists, and so on, participated in their struggles with some degree of abstraction, in the name of abstract principles like "justice" and "equality." For members of the groups immediately concerned, justice and equality were rather aspects of a struggle that was inherently a personal one. So in many cases they're not able to unproblematically shift the referent of "justice" from "civil rights for my group" to "civil rights for an arbitrary other group I have no personal connection to." It's important to understand this if you want to figure out why the SCLC would oppose gay rights--although, of course, if all you want to do is yell "bigot," it's not such a big deal.
posted by nasreddin at 6:01 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one has mentioned Bayard Rustin yet. He helped organize the SCLC, only to be forced out soon after, because he was gay. The SCLC's stance on gay rights 50 years later shouldn't be surprising after that.
posted by scottreynen at 6:48 PM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


If poor people are 50% more likely to refuse to answer your questions (because they have to get back to work), then asking every Nth person is not representative. Or at least the numbers must then be weighted.

Wrong. "No answer" is a data point.
posted by jock@law at 7:13 PM on July 11, 2009


The idea that the SCLC is some sort of selected leadership group in the "Black Community" is part of the reason these conversations never get anywhere. Ask any Black person under 40 to name a member of the SCLC. These are old church people, and their views represent just that. The views of old church people.

There's a big difference between "Black people are homophobic" and "There's a history of homophobia among older churchgoing types, but times are changing, and we think we can reach the college kids and the yuppies"

Drawing a circle around "black people" as a group on this issue is simply a mistake, both socially and politically. Soon as people stop doing that, we can beat this thing. A lot of people here berating these old fools for not following Dr. King's teachings are guilty of the same. There are two groups of people, those who are for civil rights for gays, and those who are against it. Judge by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Prop. 8 was not a social loss, it was a political loss. And the only way to win this politically is to draw the lines in your favor. Look at voters along the lines that actually count. Things like age, class, education, religion give you a much clearer picture of what it will take to win this issue politically.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:07 PM on July 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think looking at this from a racial perspective is really that constructive.

Looking at it from a religious perspective however is.

It's always irked me that for the most part when people talk about mormons or catholics it's implied that we're talking about a segment of the white vote.

Prop 8 wasn't passed because black people hate gays, but because religious people hate gays.

It's a very important difference.
posted by Allan Gordon at 12:59 AM on July 12, 2009


jock@law, "no answer" is not a valid data point. It doesn't give you any indication of how the person voted, and if you are assuming that your exit polling is perfectly random, you will be wrong.


Here's an interview by the PEW president that assumes exit poll bias. No argument about whether it exists.
"Still, nonresponse is considered to be one of the main factors that contributed to exit polls' overestimating the Kerry vote by about 5.5% nationally in 2004".
When a voter refuses to participate, the interviewer records their gender, race and approximate age. This data allow the exit pollsters to do statistical corrections for any bias in gender, race and age that might result from refusals." - from mystery pollster's "what you should know about exit polls"

So I'm wrong in that no answer is treated as a data point, but only to correct for the bias that you claim doesn't exist.

The non-response bias is a known phenomenon in polling/surveying. Exit polls are generally quite accurate indeed, but it's because they know about these biases and account for them.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:39 AM on July 12, 2009


Lemurrhea, reread everything you just wrote. Very, very, very carefully. And slowly. Then read everything above. Very, very, very closely. Then apologize.
posted by jock@law at 9:32 AM on July 12, 2009


Don't feed the troll, Lemurrhea.
posted by darkstar at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2009


NAACP refuses to take a position on gay marriage.
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on July 12, 2009


And heaven forbid, we like to kiss in public! Gay Men Kicked Out Of Restaurant For Kissing...Cop Who Shows Up Tells Them Kissing Is Illegal.

Gay Couple Detained Near Mormon Plaza After Kiss.

Kissers Protest Near L.D.S. Temple Square.
posted by ericb at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2009


NAACP refuses to take a position

That seems like a pretty clear position actually.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


All this is very sad, of course. Gay people of all races were engaged in the civil rights struggle of black people for decades, standing shoulder to shoulder with MLK, crucial in the very founding of the civil rights organizations which these days have betrayed their gay brothers in arms. It's as if together they reached the lifeboats, but once the first group climbed in, they grabbed the oars and smashed the hands of those who were wishing their turn to climb aboard. So away they float into the deep water, left to their own devices.

What to do? Obviously this calls for re-evaluation of the progressive alliance. First and foremost, there should be no retaliation from the gay community - I winced at the reports of some gay people blaming the black community for prop 8 - two wrongs don't make a right. Not in official ways, nor even in private ways. Nothing should be done to hurt anyone on the other side. At the same time, gay people and organizations need to re-evaluate how they spend their financial, social and political capital. Throwing more of their capital into the very boats which will not allow them aboard is counter-productive. Gay people are floating alone - they need all their resources for themselves. It is a matter of survival - if someone is not helping you, you are forced to suspend your help toward them, otherwise you cannot survive (turn to neutrality, but never cross into obstructing).

The NAACP for example, gets a lot of funding from progressive organizations. Yes, remove the gay dollar from that - however, much more important is the social and political capital and power of personal networking - because once you identify the recipients as no longer a progressive agency, but at best neutral, many, many more organizations (like the Ford Foundation, f.ex.) join the exodus. So, f.ex. the NAACP will be left only with those who are willing to support an organization that is not only no longer at the forefront of civil rights, but is actively obstructive of civil rights - and that is not a very large source of funding. Make their funding reflect their beliefs. A fair price to pay.

The argument can be framed very simply. Today, the premier civil rights struggle is the struggle for equality for gay people. There is a simple way to drive that point home - can you picture a black man as president of the U.S.? Obviously. Now, can you picture an openly gay man (married to another gay man) as president of the U.S.? That shows you the distance that needs to be traveled, and proves unambiguously, which struggle progressive organizations should back, which fight is the most urgent. In that context, the NAACP will fade way back as a priority when it comes to funding and support - crucially on a social and political level, including personal connections and influence. This re-alignment will take time of course, but once that happens, it will be very powerful indeed.

Crucially, the door should always be left open to cooperation - there must be always a willingness for reconciliation and never any bitterness (or worse). But the days when your support is taken for granted, and the only thank you is spitting in your face - those days are at an end. Time to take those organizations at their word - they don't recognize your rights, they don't even recognize your cause as a civil rights issue at the most fundamental level. To continue to support them, is to earn increasing contempt from them. Answer not with hate or anger. Instead, take heed, and start putting your efforts toward your own - you cannot afford to do otherwise. I am convinced, that at by the time this fight is over, gay people will come out ahead - the social infrastructure is in place, it is just a matter of time.
posted by VikingSword at 10:50 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not going to read all of the comments but the gist of this is (correct me if I'm wrong... it has happened in the past):

A group that advocates equal rights for minority groups in our population does not want equal rights for all minority groups?
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:02 AM on July 13, 2009


No, almost.

The gist is, a group that was historically founded to help fight for equal rights for blacks fifty years ago has decided that, in the 21st Century, it is more expedient to remove members from their ranks who also fight for equal rights for homosexuals.

It's similar, but not congruent. The group itself has, as yet, made no statement on its actual position on equality for gays. They have only decided to take action against members who advocate for that issue.
posted by hippybear at 9:13 AM on July 13, 2009


Here's my question about the SCLC: Have they ever spoken out in favor of civil rights for groups of people who aren't black?

If they haven't, I'd be much more understanding about their de facto position on gay marriage. They're an organization dedicated to the civil rights of black people in the United States. Selective, but it's not as though that isn't a full-time job.

But if they purport to actively defend and support the civil rights of everyone, regardless of creed or color, they need to pull their heads out of their butts on this one.

Here's their mission statement, from the front page of their website:
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is renewing its commitment to bring about the promise of “one nation, under God, indivisible” together with the commitment to activate the “strength to love” within the community of humankind.
And here's their description of the organization itself:
The SCLC is a nonprofit, non-sectarian, inter-faith, advocacy organization that is committed to non-violent action to achieve social, economic, and political justice.
I just dunno what to think here. I suspect they need to change their mission statement if they're not going to be supporting the rights of people regardless of sexual orientation.

Oh, and to piggyback on nasreddin's comment: Because straight white people come at this argument from a position of relative privilege, it's important to recognize that we have more of a responsibility to fight for someone's civil rights because it's the right thing to do, not because we have some personal investment in making sure those rights are achieved*. I don't mean for that to come off as paternalistic, so sorry if it does, but whenever I find myself talking with someone about just how much black support or lack thereof is affecting the struggle for gay rights, I feel like I'm the unwitting victim of some conservative divide-and-conquer strategy.

*Of course, we do have a personal investment; a happier society is a better, more fruitful one, etc. etc.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2009


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