Since election night, I have been feeling deeply disappointed and somewhat conflicted. There was a part of me, not the part that believes the System we are all part of is beyond repair and voting is meaningless, but a more hopeful part of me that wanted to vote for the man who clearly was going to be the first black president of America. I want to be able to say I took part in history, that in a tiny way I helped shift things for the better…but that’s simply not the case. Putting aside all my disagreements with Obama’s ideas and policies and intentions and the disappointments they will inevitably bring to our country, I want to focus on a great disappointment happening right now that makes the election of a black president so bitter-sweet.
Numerous news sources have since reported that it was black voters who overwhelmingly voted to ban gay marriage. In fact, according to The Washington Post, seven in ten black voters in California who voted for Obama, voted for Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage.
And Barack Obama, ever the centrist, or should that be equivocator, claimed Proposition 8 was divisive, yet does not support gay marriage.
Add to this the 53% of Latino voters who were against Proposition 8 and gay marriage didn’t stand a chance in California.1
In 2004, I had the good fortune to hear Coretta Scott King speak, and she stood up in front of a crowd of about a thousand people and demanded we fight for the rights of gays everywhere. Mrs. King saw the connections and made clear that the struggle never ends, but her views are not shared by other leaders of the Civil Rights movement, past and present.
The California chapter of the NAACP opposed Proposition 8 and the Sacramento chapter was so divided it did not even vote on the issue.2
The formidable Civil Rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth has also adamantly refused to even consider that gays should have rights and in recent years has done all he can to defeat any legislation to protect the rights of gays in Cincinnati, Ohio.
So, as much as I would like, I cannot fully participate in the celebration of the election of a black president. After all that has happened in America, to finally reach this point should be the greatest victory; instead, as Mrs. King told us that day four years ago, the struggle goes on. And on and on. Maybe one day, we’ll all understand at the same time that we all deserve the same rights and privileges and forgo the sad habit of forgetting where we once were and who still resides there.
- Karl Vick and Ashley Surdin. WashingtonPost.com, Friday, November 7, 2008. [↩]
- Susan Ferriss. McClatchy Newspapers. November 7, 2208. Freep.com [↩]