While the rest of the nation was moving forward, electing an African-American to the nation’s highest office for the first time, California was turning back the hands of its West Coast clock-back to when marriage was solely defined as a union between a man and a woman.
Proposition 8, which on the California state election ballot was a proposal to “eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry,” was voted in place by 52% of California voters. 52% of 11 million Californians thought that a state law allowing same sex marriages was inappropriate. The dollars each group spent campaigning for and against proposition 8 surpassed all of the 2008 campaign measures with the exception of the Presidential election.
Off the bat, I don’t have a problem with whom people choose as their significant other-to each his (or her) own. But if the measure ever found itself on my state’s ballot, I honestly don’t know how I’d vote. I’m not alone. African-Americans in California voted for proposition 8 at a 2 to 1 ratio. I can’t help but wonder – in a nation where more than half of all marriages between African-American men and women end in divorce; where 43 percent of sisters have never been married (compared to 25 percent of white women), and where nearly 3 out of 4 African-American children are being raised by single parents, does the concept of same sex marriages erode the promise of African-American marriage in general?
Statistics show that African-Americans have not had the same success at marriage as have people of other races. So-when marriages suceed, we put those couples, especially the prominent ones, on pretty high pedestals. Wil and Jada. Denzel and Pauletta. Ossie and Ruby Dee. Bill and Camille. Barack and Michelle. I truly believe one of things that appealed to us-especially to sisters- about President-Elect Obama was the undeniable truth that he is both a good father and a good husband. Like most Americans, sisters loved that a inspirational, capable person was headed to the White House, but it didn’t hurt that this tremendous role model would be on the world’s highest stage.
We can examine the religious aspect of marriage, but at the end of the day, maybe the reason why African-Americans voted in such large numbers against same sex marriages in Cali-is because of a promise unfulfilled. The next President of the United States will be a Black man, but there are still many Black folks that have yet to achieve the “American Dream” of a white picket fence, 2 car garage, 2.5 kids and the perfect spouse. Maybe Black folks feel that before we can expand into realms where we fight for the right for same sex marriages we must first get opposite sex marriage…right.
So why did Black folks vote for Proposition 8? Here’s a better question: Are Black folks voting against same sex marriages or voting for a chance at love and marriage – period?
Written by Ed Jackson