California state Supreme Court rules in favor of Prop 8

by CynthiaYockey on May 26, 2009

At his blog, Legal Insurrection, Cornell law professor William Jacobson has an even-handed analysis of today’s decision by the state Supreme Court of California upholding Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage by defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. (See here for the decision.) Prof. Jacobson writes, “The Court rejected the notion that the People, through Constitutional amendment, could not restrict the right to marry,” and quotes material that in essence says, “Homosexuals can have civil unions that are separate but equal to marriage, so we find that heterosexuals can reserve the word ‘marriage’ for themselves and define it to describe only their legal unions.”

Prof. Jacobson points out that this sends the matter back to the political arena where lesbians and gays must persuade the majority of Californians to repeal Prop. 8 if they want the word “marriage” to include same-sex civil unions.

Gay Patriot — specifically Gay Patriot West, who lives in California — approves of the decision and hopes that lesbians and gays who are disappointed will find ways to be civil toward the opponents of their equality to create grounds for persuading them to support marriage equality in the future. I am troubled by the court’s support of majority rule in limiting equality for minorities, but I agree we must be civil about it.

I don’t know what the response of the National Organization for Marriage is to the decision, but on their Web site, here’s is one of the talking points they recommend for defeating marriage equality for same-sex couples:

Language to avoid at all costs: ‘Ban same-sex marriage.’ Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM [same-sex marriage]. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. [Emphasis mine.] Don’t use it. Say we’re against ‘redefining marriage’ or in favor or ‘marriage as the union of husband and wife’ NEVER ‘banning same-sex marriage.’

Screen shot from the "Marriage Talking Points" page of the Web site for the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage equality.

The way I read this is that NOM and its allies know they can speak in code to defeat same-sex marriage AND civil unions and that they use this code-speak to win over people who would never otherwise deny equality to homosexuals. But their true intention is expressed in their words, ” ‘Ban same-sex marriage.’ Our base loves this wording.” They love it because that’s what they want to do. So I expect that they will not rest with their success on Prop. 8, but will use it as leverage for repealing same-sex civil unions.

I’ve read the statistic that 85 percent of blacks voted in favor of Prop. 8 in order to defeat same-sex marriage. It occurs to me that black opposition to same-sex marriage is a safe expression of an intense and virulent anti-white racism because the majority of people who are openly lesbian or gay are white. I suspect this anti-white/anti-gay hatred — if I am correct and it exists and is widespread — is founded in Black Liberation Theology. But whatever foundation it has, homosexuals are the safe white people to hate and the minority that can safely be denied equality. No good is going to come of either of those things.

What I hope that the organizations fighting for civil rights for homosexuals will do to win the hearts and minds of a majority of the electorate to vote in favor of equality for lesbians and gays is to work hard to make it safe for more people to come out to their families, friends, colleagues and church congregations. That will make it difficult-to-impossible to demonize us. And when people find out that people they already know and respect or care about — or who are their children or other relatives — are gay or lesbian, the case for denying us equality starts to melt away.

Update: Thank you, Afrocity, for your cross-post and your perspective. I value your insights and those of your readers.

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Afrocity May 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Cynthia you said

“I’ve read the statistic that 85 percent of blacks voted in favor of Prop. 8 in order to defeat same-sex marriage. It occurs to me that black opposition to same-sex marriage is a safe expression of an intense and virulent anti-white racism because the majority of people who are openly lesbian or gay are white.”

I don’t agree with this, though I can see why it would be a theory. There is suppressed homosexuality in the black community and I do not see it as a racial issue but one of culture and religion where blacks are concerned. Look at the career of Bayard Rustin who was MLK’s right hand man and gay. Bayard was effectively written out of black history because he was gay. I think that the Caucasian community has more gays that openly come out. Also look at the literature of Alice Walker and Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen. All black and gay. So was Duke Ellington. Lucky for them, their accomplishments eclipsed their gayness and the AA community forgave them by never mentioning their transgressions. It is a religious issue and when I have heard blacks who are against gays, they are actually mentioning black gays more than any other race.

What do you think?

Cynthia Yockey May 26, 2009 at 5:02 pm


Thanks for considering my concern so kindly — that’s why I asked for your opinion! (Also, not to worry, I fixed the typo!)

Based on what you wrote, it seems to me that there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen within the black community toward its own gays and lesbians, as well as between the black and white communities, both straight and gay.

At one of the gay rights parades in Washington, D.C., in the 1980’s, I was only about 100 feet from Rev. Jesse Jackson when he promised we were a rainbow coalition and all deserving of equality. We were promised reciprocity. We delivered on our side of the bargain. Maybe the pressure is the greatest in the black community on black lesbians and gays, but the gay community really is a rainbow and the message we’re receiving from the black community that we do not deserve equality strikes me as a dangerous one for all minorities, especially when the rationale is a religious one.


Afrocity May 26, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Forgive my spelling I am in transit and my “i” key is stcking (see)

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