I found it interesting in our interview with Democrats Earl Jones and Marcus Brandon this week that both men readily expressed opposition to the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment in North Carolina
Brandon is an openly gay state House member whom Jones wants to unseat in the 60th District. Both men are black.
Their district is majority black.
This matters because African Americans traditionally have been especially conservative on the issue of gay rights, an attitude largely rooted in the black church.
In fact, the black vote was instrumental in the passage of California anti-gay marriage amendment in 2008. One exit poll placed it at 70 percent. Later analysis suggested the number may have been only 57 to 59 percent. But that’s still solid support and some black clergy helped lead the charge.
In 2008 and 2009, a Pew Forum poll found that 62 percent of African Americans opposed gay marriage in 2008 and 2009. By 2010, the number dropped to 59 percent but was still greater than white opposition to gay marriage, which polled at 46 percent in 2010.
Jones characterized the law as “a distraction and a nonissue” and went so far as to say he support repeal of the current state law against gay marriage.
Added Brandon: “The marriage amendment serves exactly no purpose.”
Black voters and the black community traditionally has turned a cold shoulder toward gay rights because it has viewed homosexuality as sinful and forbidden by the Bible.
So what happens in 2012? The Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP, has proclaimed his opposition to the marriage amendment and the NAACP’s opposition.
Barber won’t go so far as to say he supports gay marriage. But he did write in a 2011 op-ed: “The NAACP strongly urges you to reject the so-called same sex amendment and any other present or future proposals of constitutional amendments that would permanently deprive any person in our great state of his or her inalienable rights.”
In an ironic way, the politics of the North Carolina amendment may have helped to stoke black opposition.
Barber also wrote: “Our research shows that today shadowy money with connections to ultraconservative think-tanks and millionaires are financing a cynical move to trick some North Carolina voters in next year’s election by trying to place a state constitutional amendment on the issue of ‘Same Sex Marriage’ on the presidential election ballot. The Family Research Council has reportedly paid for radio ads, targeting both African American and White legislators who have large African American constituencies. The millionaires who fund these election tricks could care less about who marries whom. But they invest their money in issues that will affect who votes for whom.”