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Impact Nil of Obama’s Pro-Gay-Marriage Stance Among Black Supporters

by Errin Haines & Jesse Washington
Sunday May 13, 2012
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Like many black Americans, Dorsey Jackson does not believe in gay marriage, but he wasn’t disillusioned when Barack Obama became the first president to support it. The windows of his suburban Philadelphia barbershop still display an "Obama 2012" placard and another that reads "We’ve Got His Back."

If Obama needs to endorse same-sex marriage to be re-elected, said Jackson, so be it: "Look, man - by any means necessary."

With that phrase popularized by the black radical Malcolm X, Jackson rebutted those who say Obama’s new stand will weaken the massive black support he needs to win re-election in November. Black voters and especially black churches have long opposed gay marriage. But the 40-year-old barber and other African-Americans interviewed in politically key states say their support for Obama remains unshaken.

Some questioned whether he really believes what he said about gay rights or merely took that stand to help defeat Republican Mitt Romney - suggesting African-Americans view the first black president less as an icon than as a straight-up politician who still feels like family.

"Obama is human," said Leon Givens of Charlotte, N.C. "I don’t have him on a pedestal."

On Tuesday, Givens voted in favor of banning gay marriage in North Carolina. Many black precincts voted 2-1 for the ballot measure, which passed easily.

The next day, Givens heard Obama tell the nation in a TV interview: "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

But this fall, Givens plans to register Obama voters and drive senior citizens to the polls. Givens, a retired human resources manager, said she suspects the president’s pronouncement was "more a political thing than his true feelings." But she’s not dwelling on it.

"We can agree to disagree on gay marriage," Givens said of the president, "and then I leave him alone."

Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by a mere 14,000 votes, thanks largely to a huge black turnout. Nationally, 95 percent of black voters chose Obama, and 2 million more black people voted than in 2004. No one doubts Obama will carry the black vote this year, but whether he again can turn out such large numbers could prove crucial to his chances.

African-Americans historically have been more hostile to gays and lesbians than other racial and ethnic groups.

Only 39 percent of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of white Americans, according to a Pew poll conducted this April. Forty-nine percent of blacks and 43 percent of whites are opposed.

But blacks - like other Americans - have become more supportive of gay marriage in recent years. Black support has risen dramatically since 2008, when only 26 percent of black people favored gay marriage and 63 percent were opposed, according to Pew.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-05-13 15:06:10

    It’s amazing and sad how blacks support Obama because of 1 thing: his skin color. I’m a Gay Latino man. If a politician’s views don’t mesh with mine, I couldn’t care if he was Gay or Latino or both - I WOULDN’T VOTE FOR HIM! Blacks, even religious ones, tend to overlook Obama’s abortion stance and stance on Gays when they vote for him. Is the color of one’s skin all they can see? Seems like a very prejudiced race of people :(


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-13 16:43:26

    I’m embarrassed to admit I’m much more tolerant of ignorance that produces the same end result as my educated, informed decisions.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-13 23:01:04

    Just because we don’t agree with Obama on one issue, doesn’t mean we will support someone else. Regardless of his views on same sex marriage, we choose to support Obama because of his position on the bigger issues.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-14 01:35:55

    What is amazing to me, is that just 47 years ago blacks could not marry outside their race. However in 2012, they are the ones that are prejudice to marriage equality. Sad.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-14 08:41:40

    Blacks only care about civil rights that apply to them. It’s a joke.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-14 10:12:17

    I am saddened that any African American would not support marraige equality. Most gay and lesbian people emphatically support equal rights and fair treatment for people of color. Just sad. How are they so blinded to their own ignorance?


  • Wendell Wallace, 2012-05-14 10:23:42

    I’m a gay black man from the south and I currently live in MA with my white husband. I told him a few days ago that blacks were still going to vote for President Obama even though the majority are anti-gay. They look at it this way, a black man or a white man who they firmly believe does not care about them as a people. If Obama was running against another black man he might be in trouble. I say might because if the other black man was seen as an uncle Tom, Obama would still win.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-14 10:42:30

    Ironically, blacks have the highest rates of single parent families and absent fathers... let’s talk about gay marriage being a threat of any kind that dynamic.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-14 20:00:52

    I believe that African Americans will soon realize two things: 1. that protecting and upholding the human and equality rights of LGBT people will not interfere with protecting and upholding the human and equality rights of People of Colour, and 2. that those objecting to protecting the rights of LGBT people and same-sex couples are the same people who want to weasel out of protecting the rights of African Americans and other People of Colour. As they realize this, African Americans will become strong allies of the LGBT community.


  • Anonymous, 2012-05-15 20:30:16

    Yayyy ?


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