October 30, 2003


Queer Eye for the Black Guy: Fear of Gay Marriage Gives the GOP Another Chance at Minority Voters (Ta-Nehisi Coates, September 24 - 30, 2003, Village Voice)

[T]here is an underappreciated fact about black America that anyone armed with a decent survey could see: Black people vote like Democrats, but on social issues they think like Republicans. Whether the GOP can ever lure churchgoing African Americans from the revival tent to the party's so-called big tent remains a matter for debate. Now the controversy over gay marriage, a potent brew of religion and politics, is giving Republicans another shot--but don't bet on their converting it.

The votes are there to be gathered, or so the numbers would suggest. A July poll, by Gallup and CNN/USA Today, concluded that since the Supreme Court overturned Texas's anti-sodomy law in June, support for gay marriage has dropped precipitously in the black community. Before the decision, when African Americans were asked whether homosexual relationships should be legal, 58 percent said yes; afterward that figure dropped to 36 percent. [...]

The goal of transforming black fundamentalism into a black conservative voting bloc has proven elusive, however. Much of black history involves African Americans petitioning the government--with varying degrees of success--for protection against racism. Thus African Americans tend to have a progressive view of the role of government. "The difference is that black conservative Christians are more concerned about social and economic needs that the government can address," says Bositis. "Government is something that white Christian conservatives are against, except in trying to control people's lives through abortion curbs, etc."

Today, there simply is no black equivalent of the Christian Coalition. While the black church has been the source of some backward thinking on social issues, it's also been a hotbed of black leftism--just look at Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton.

Conservatives have yet to outline for African Americans the benefits of shifting their vote rightward. For gay marriage to be a voting issue, they would have to see some sort of cost-benefit analysis. "What do you tell your kids when they ask about the schools?" Bositis says. " 'Yeah, but we kept those gay people from getting married'?"

How about: Republicans got you the voucher that put you in a decent school?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2003 6:15 PM

The Republicans have been pussy-footing around with the black vote for 20 or 25 years. It is time for a Republican candidate to go to the NAACP (or some similar venue) and speak directly to the people (over the heads of the elite Luddites) and simply tell them the truth: that Jesse and Al and Kweisi are corrupt, perverse, and archaic. We will not try to buy your votes, but we will help you a lot more than those fools.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 30, 2003 7:29 PM

Bush spoke to an NAACP meeting in '00. Didn't do him much good, although I applaud his making the effort.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 30, 2003 8:26 PM

Remember, all we need to destroy the Democrats as a national party is for about 20% of the black vote to switch. This seems inevitable as blacks move more and more into the middle class.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 31, 2003 7:50 AM