Monthly Archives: September 2008

Black Folks and Gay Marriage.

(This is cross-posted at my place.)

I don’t know why Andrew Sullivan continues to pontificate about black people, since it’s clear that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  For example, today, he closed a brief post on white evangelicals and gay marriage with this little “observation”:

Black evangelicals are another matter. There is, alas, no ethnic community as homophobic in America as African-Americans. Which is why the ballot initiative in California could be close.

Sullivan doesn’t backup this claim with any data, which is unfortunate, because if he had bothered to do a little bit of research, he would have found a fair amount of evidence to suggest that his assertion isn’t necessarily the case.  But first, let’s parse Sullivan’s statement a bit.  He’s making two (really broad) claims: African-Americans are the most homophobic ethnic community, and African-Americans are more likely to support anti-gay marriage ballot initatives than the average (read: white) American.

With regards to the first claim, a Pew Forum survey released this June found that, at least when compared to white Americans, African-Americans are somewhat more likely to voice opposition to gay marriage (56 percent versus 49 percent) and significantly more likely to oppose civil unions (53 percent versus 39 percent). That however, doesn’t tell the whole story.  For one, those numbers have decreased (folks have become more tolerant) since 2004, and there’s no reason not to expect that to continue as time progresses.  Furthermore, Pew didn’t present a full ethnic breakdown, or even a breakdown which included Americans of Asian, and Hispanic descent.  Absent those numbers, it is impossible for Sullivan to assert (again, without any evidence) that African-Americans are the most homophobic “ethnic community.”

Sullivan’s second claim is a bit easier to address.  The 2004 presidential election provides a lot of data on this front, since anti-gay marriage initatives were on the ballot in several states, and more importantly, a good chunk of those states – Mississippi, Ohio, Michigan – have significant African-American populations. Considering black attitudes on homosexuality, you’d expect that blacks would be more likely to support said initatives than whites. The LA Times found, however, that contrary to expectations, blacks were marginallyless likely to support anti-gay marriage initatives than whites:

When constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage were on 11 state ballots in November 2004, blacks in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio and Oklahoma were at least one percentage point less likely than whites to vote for them, according to CNN exit polls. Only in Georgia were blacks slightly more likely to vote for the amendment. (The remaining four states had too few blacks to make a meaningful comparison.)

Moreover, it’s not necessarily the case that black homophobia translates to opposition to civil rights for gays:

In the most comprehensive study to date of black-white differences in attitudes toward homosexuality, Gregory B. Lewis of Georgia State University combined data from 31 national surveys conducted between 1973 and 2000. His study, published in Public Opinion Quarterly, concluded that “blacks appear to be more likely than whites both to see homosexuality as wrong and to favor gay-rights laws.”

And it is especially worth noting that African-Americans routinely elect and reelect black politicians with strong stands on gay rights:

Across the country, black voters repeatedly reelect African American politicians who support gay rights. The nation’s two black governors have forcefully backed gay marriage — and each has spoken movingly about accepting gay people in his own family. Californians have seen Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums preside over an extraordinary series of weddings this summer, including the union of one lesbian couple that incorporated the traditional African American wedding practice of jumping over a broom.

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has said African Americans in Congress are, “with no close second, the most supportive group for gays and lesbians” — more supportive even than the gays in Congress, he added dryly, if you count those who are in the closet.

If I had to offer a convincing explanation for this is the case, I’d say that A) African-Americans are too concerned with pocketbook and law & order concerns to worry about gay people (obsessing over gay marriage is a hobby of the middle and upper middle class), and B) the language of civil rights is still very salient for African-Americans, and the LGBT communities use of that language has, on some level, been successful in drawing black sympathy.

Regardless, even though it is certainly the case that many African-Americans hold negative views of homosexuality (influenced largely by the conservative theology common in most black churches), it is very hard to say that African-Americans are the “most homophobic” ethnic community, and it’s simply wrong to assume that that translates into political action against LGBT Americans.  Sullivan should really try doing a little research before breathlessly posting about these things.

– Jamelle

Mommy in Chief!

A couple weeks ago when Matt Damon called out the Palin mess for the insipid Disney movie that it is, quadmoniker and I decided that that movie was called “Mommy in Chief.” We were gonna write a fake trailer for it and everything.

Turns out, some folks already beat us to it. Their trailer doesn’t include the things-are-about-to-get-zany anthems “I Feel Good” “or Who Let the Dogs Out,” that are legally required to appear in every trailer for a Disney movie, but it’s a spirited entry nonetheless.

-700. (Gulp.)

In case you hadn’t heard yet, the planned $700B bailout of Wall Street failed. The Dow is in a swoon, down 700+ points right now.

So what happens now? Douthat:

The worst case: You know what.

The most likely scenario, as of 3 PM this afternoon: The stock market continues to drop. Some version of the bailout passes in the next week. The American economy staggers into a recession, but passes through the storm without 1930s-style suffering; the Republican Party is not so fortunate. Even though most Americans claim to oppose the bailout [update: not anymore], the House GOP’s obstructionism is widely viewed as having worsened the economic situation; the fact that these are contradictory positions does not faze an electorate that wraps all of the country’s current troubles up, ties them with a bow, and lays them at the feet of the Bush-led GOP. John McCain loses by a landslide in November. The Democratic Party regains years or even decades worth of ground among the white working class, consolidates the Hispanic vote, and locks up a large chunk of highly-educated voters who might otherwise lean conservative. The muchdiscussed liberal realignment happens. And a politician running on a Ron Paul-style economic platform does very, very well in the GOP primaries of 2012.


1. It’s highly likely that some sort of bill will pass the Congress. What kind of bill, I don’t know. But the Dow is liable to act as something of a thermostat. The lower the Dow goes, affecting people’s 401Ks, the more banks that fail, the less unpopular the bailout becomes, and the more of those swing district congressmen will flip over to support the package.

2. Now, if the Dow is rational, it ought to recognize all of this. What were the chances as of this morning that the 110th Congress was going to pass some sort of bailout bill before it adjourned? 90 percent, I’m guessing? What are the chances now? Higher than you’d think because of the thermostat effect I described above — perhaps 75 percent. So if a 15 percent reduction in the probability of the bailout passing was worth 600 points on the Dow (and granted, that 15 percent number is plucked out of thin air), what would a complete failure to pass the bailout translate into? A 4000 point loss?

3. Yes, the Democrats absolutely have the Republicans by the short and curlies. An LA Times/Bloomberg poll released last week revealed that 32 percent of persons blame Wall Street for the financial crisis — generally conceived of as a Republican institution — and 26 percent blame the Bush Administration. Just 11 percent blame Congress. The worse the economy gets, the more of a hole the Republicans have to dig themselves out of.

4. Having said all of the above, the schadenfreude of certain liberals on this issue is absolutely obnoxious. A lot of people are going to be hurt by this, and not just those in the investor class. I tend to see this more as a failure of our democracy than a reaffirmation of it. The congressmen who are retiring this year — and who therefore can perhaps be described as the most neutral arbiters of the public good — voted overwhelmingly for this measure.

Also, the House’s website is down. Hmph.

The New Blacks.

Didi Lima, (former) Nevada GOP communications director and (former) Hispanic Outreach Coordinator for the McCain campaign, tells the AP:

We don’t want (Hispanics) to become the new African-American community. And that’s what the Democratic Party is going to do to them, create more programs and give them handouts, food stamps and checks for this and checks for that. We don’t want that.

I’m very much afraid that the Democratic Party is going to do the same thing that they did with the African-American culture and make them all dependent on the government and we don’t want that.

Man, where is MY check?

If only this fairytale of blacks sucking the government dry were true.

[Xposted at The Waiting Room]

Does This Ad Work?

It seems like this is aimed to those folks who feel some kind of personal animus toward McCain. But those people weren’t voting for McCain anyway.

If you’re going this route, don’t you have to make sure that a McCain win would be a dangerous thing? All we have here is cheers and McCain’s annoying voice.

[h/t ari]

Pre-Game Warmup.

This and a lot of other dope behind-the-scenes pics from the first presidential debate on the Obama Flickr page.

[via Ben Smith.]

A Case for More Palin.

After the debates last Friday, Joe Biden went into bulldog mode, hitting up news outlets to spin for Obama. McCain’s camp drafted the consistently reprehensible Rudy Giuliani to do the same, a clear indication of how much of a media liability Sarah Palin has become in their eyes.

Where was Palin? As far away from the action as possible, hanging out in bars and hitting up overrated cheesesteak joints in South Philly.* (And even doing this, she managed to put her foot in her mouth.) Steve Schmidt and Co. can’t figure out what to do with her, so they’ve tried to make her into some sort of quasi-First Lady: pleasant, smiley, completely banal. Better that than a drag on the ticket.

But she’s obviously still a drag on the ticket. And I think they’re playing this wrong, both politically and in terms of governance. Hiding Palin from the press only makes her more fascinating, which ensures that millions of extra eyeballs will be checking for her interviews than would otherwise be watching 20/20 or CBS Evening News. And so every time she launches into one of her nonsensical, graceless, anti-grammatical answers, the damage is exacerbated and magnified. We are getting that pure uncut. Were she doled out more liberally, a lot of her negatives would be nullified. (See Biden, Joe.)

But also.

If they had her out there all the time fucking up, she would get better, or at least, more comfortable. Watching her interview with Katie Couric, it was sort of amazing to see her not be able to handle the kind of pesky, tough questions that a more capable politician like HRC or Obama would easily bat away or reframe. She can’t bullshit, and I mean that in the worst possible way.  As much schadenfreude as her travails may give us, there’s still a really, really good chance that this untested, incoherent, incurious woman could be the President of the United States. And right now, she says ill-considered, even dangerous things.  If there’s a chance that regular press attention makes her a more deliberate, less reckless politician — a stretch, granted — than maybe she should be exposed to it as much as possible.

*I know they’re more photogenic, but if you’re gonna get a cheesesteak in Philly, for God’s sakes people, don’t holler at the tourist-y spots. Tony Luke’s is okay, but the famous Geno’s and Pats are pathetic. Go to some tiny local corner store. Your tastebuds will thank you, even as your arteries curse you under their breath.