Here are the three biggest hand-wringing fears/misnomers people have had about gay marriage, even those who support it:
1. This unimportant issue will cost Obama re-election!
2. Marriage equality would have happened by now, if not for those on-the-down low, religious, self-hating, homophobic black folks!
3. Marriage equality will never pass when it comes up for a vote, because it never has before, and therefore never will, especially in a state with a lot black voters!
Ever since President Obama came out for same-sex marriage, all three have been proven to be utter bullshit. Let’s explore.
Number 1. Re-election
If Obama loses re-election, it certainly won’t be because of his support for same-sex marriage. As we discussed yesterday with Michelangelo Signorile on Sirius, the president’s support has strengthened support for same-sex marriage in general, while there has been no statistical change in his own polling in the past two weeks following his big announcement.
Number 2. Black support on the down-low will ruin all
We have been talking ad nauseam since the fall of 2008 about how blame being given to black Americans regarding gay rights is disproportionate and irrational. Age, not race, shows a far bigger divide between how populations view gay rights, and old people vote in far larger numbers, and have historically opposed gay rights far more strongly, than black people.
Still, if politics makes for strange bedfellows, then the bed that got Dan Savage, Touré, Maggie Gallagher and Ruben Diaz orgiastically together in it as they blamed black folks for the ills of gay folks was one hot mess. The problem for them is that it hasn’t turned out to be true. When the first black President — elected with 95 percent of black voters’ approval, and enjoying the same level support of today — came out for marriage, black people didn’t turn out to be Neanderthal, knuckle-dragging, single issue troglodytes who were going to chuck Obama aside for this one stance. In 2012, black voters did not prove incapable of rational thought or (gasp!) listening to and learning from the leader they’d invested so much in and for whom they had so much respect. Instead, it appears that it’s black people who’ve most taken cues from Obama on this subject and who are radically evolving (and not their allegedly more equality enlightened white brothers and sisters). We spoke yesterday to ABC pollster Gary Langer about how black Americans now support, by a majority, the right for gay and lesbian couples to wed. Public Policy Polling teased yesterday that black voters in Pennsylvania swung drastically towards support for gay marriage in about 10 days.
Number 3. Gay marriage never wins at the polls
And, building on myth number two, it certainly never could in a heavily black state, right?
Wrong. Public Policy Polling has the most stunning news out of Maryland today. In a survey of “852 likely voters, including an oversample of 398 African Americans” (Maryland is about 30% black), PPP has found:
-57% of Maryland voters say they’re likely to vote for the new marriage law this fall, compared to only 37% who are opposed. That 20 point margin of passage represents a 12 point shift from an identical PPP survey in early March, which found it ahead by a closer 52/44 margin.
-The movement over the last two months can be explained almost entirely by a major shift in opinion about same-sex marriage among black voters. Previously 56% said they would vote against the new law with only 39% planning to uphold it. Those numbers have now almost completely flipped, with 55% of African Americans planning to vote for the law and only 36% now opposed.
Maryland is a great case study. After Governor Martin O’Malley signed a marriage equality bill in February, Maryland residents went about getting the bill put up directly before voters before it could be enacted. This is typically where marriage equality bills go to die. A very similar situation exists in Washington State; Maine may have gay marriage on the ballot soon, too.
But! For the first time out of 30 such direct voter referendums, these states could become the first places where a popular vote could decide for marriage equality; and, in Maryland, this could happen not despite but because of a large black voting block! The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote today that, while he (like us) doesn’t “believe the right to create family among two consenting adults should be subject to the whims of a majority–black or not,” it’s still pretty cool that gay marriage could pass “in one of the blackest states in the country. I don’t think that says anything distinctive about African-Americans, except that in the climate, it seems exceptional to point out that black people are, in fact, not aliens permanently in the grip of pathology, but Americans.”
If the Obama Effect could coax a coalition as diverse as Colin Powell, 50 Cent, the NAACP, Beanie Man, and Jay-Z to publicly support more rights for gay Americans, heck, why shouldn’t it affect every day voters (especially black ones) too?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 24, 2012