California | Gay Marriage | News | Proposition 8

Study Debunks Myth That Blacks Overwhelmingly Voted 'Yes on 8'

A study by by Patrick J. Egan, Ph.D., assistant professor of politics and public policy at New York University, and Kenneth Sherrill, Ph.D., professor of political science at Hunter College, CUNY, under the auspices of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute shows that exit polls, which showed Black voters supported Prop 8 in overwhelming and disproportionate numbers, were greatly exaggerated when compared with actual data.

DefendequalityFrom an NGLTF press release (which you can read AFTER THE JUMP): "...the study found that the level of support for Proposition 8 among African Americans was nowhere close to the NEP exit poll 70 percent figure. The study looked at pre- and post-election polls and conducted a sophisticated analysis of precinct-level voting data from five California counties with the highest African-American populations (Alameda (Oakland), Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco). Based on this, it concludes that the level of African-American support for Proposition 8 was in the range of 57-59 percent. Its precinct-level analysis also found that many precincts with few black voters supported Proposition 8 at levels just as high or higher than those with many black voters."

Read more on the study results in the NGLTF press release, AFTER THE JUMP...

The SF chronicle reports: "That support among blacks is still well above the 52 percent Prop. 8 received from all voters in the Nov. 4 election. Much of that can be attributed to the strong religious tradition in the black community, where 57 percent of African American voters attend church at least once a week, compared with 42 percent of Californians overall."

Said Egan: "Party identification, age, religiosity and political view had much bigger effects than race, gender or having gay and lesbian family and friends."

Andrea Shorter, director of And Marriage for All, responded to the report: "The study debunks the myth that African Americans overwhelmingly and disproportionately supported Proposition 8. But we clearly have work to do with, within and for African American communities, particularly the black church."

Jaime Grant, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute agreed, saying, "This is a wake-up call to the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. We must do a better job of organizing in the faith-based community, using LGBT people who are themselves part of that community."

Read more on the study results in the NGLTF press release, AFTER THE JUMP...


In other news, earlier this week we reported that longtime activist Robin Tyler had resigned from the planning committee for Equality California's upcoming Equality Summit because the group planned to limit media access. The story has been developing, and Queerty has more on the back-and-forth that's been going on. Not much has changed but things are a bit clearer at this point. Prop. 8 Study.1.6.08

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  1. Assuming for the moment that this analytical method is more accurate than exit polling -- and I can imagine a lot of reasons it might not be, but I'm not a statistician -- the study hardly is the "debunking" it claims to be, is it? It still says that African-Americans voted for Prop 8 in significantly higher numbers than non-African Americans, although the number may be somewhat less than previously thought.

    That does not mean that we should blame that community for the failure, far from it. But that's because it's just as wrong to view African-Americans as some monolithic group and assign collective responsibility as it is to do the same thing with the LGBT community. This "study" -- or, rather, the NGLTF press release -- seems intent on rewriting history, however.

    Posted by: Glenn | Jan 7, 2009 9:57:55 AM

  2. Where's the rude PDF comment? ;-)

    Of couse there is way to get the PDF. Follow the link and search a bit ...

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 7, 2009 10:23:17 AM

  3. 60% instead of 70% is hardly "debunking" and is still an overwhelming majority.

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 7, 2009 10:34:25 AM

  4. Prop's to you Andy for putting this up, after seeing some of the vile, racist posts from 95% of the posters here after the election and the now debunked CNN "facts," its good that the truth is now out, and, we can get back to building bridges with this community and others who voted against us by showing we are inclusive and progressive, not the klan posing as gay.

    The blame game was horrible as all groups voted for it, no matter the margin and it passed.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Jan 7, 2009 10:37:54 AM

  5. Glenn said, "It still says that African-Americans voted for Prop 8 in significantly higher numbers than non-African Americans, although the number may be somewhat less than previously thought."

    No it doesn't. The numbers are only a few percentage points higher than Latino communities if you slice along race. However, the rates are in line if you slice along age or religion. Get it? As with most groups, older and/or more religious voters supported Prop 8.

    The elephant in the room that continues to be ignored is that 50% of eligible GLBT voters sat out the election. Had they gotten their butts to the polls the results might have been different.

    Posted by: noah | Jan 7, 2009 10:52:40 AM

  6. Noah:

    Here's the thing: you really are just a racist. The scapegoating of African Americans after the election was disgusting, but nothing compared to racist gays like you, who do nothing to combat the bigotry against gays which is a larger problem in the African American community than it is in the population at large. It's much safer to bitch at supposedly racist gays than it is to take on actually homophobic blacks. And I am waiting for an apology from you and every other racist cretin who screamed at any suggestion that messiah Obama was not unambiguously good for gays before the election. Tim Kaine will be a nightmare for gays. We have not even seen the tip of the iceberg with Obama's indifference to civil rights for gays. But we have seen enough for you, Noah, to owe me, Landon Bryce, an apology.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 11:12:07 AM

  7. African-Americans voted for Prop 8 in lower numbers than previously reported but it was still higher than any other major (white, Latino, Asian) RACIAL/ETHNIC group.

    What about the marriage ban in Florida that also took place on 11-4-08? Reports indicated that blacks voted 71/29 in favor of the gay marriage ban in that state. Those figures 71/29 figure for Florida are similar to the now discredited 70/30 figures for Prop. 8.

    Posted by: elg | Jan 7, 2009 11:18:40 AM

  8. I meant to write "Those 71/29 figures for Florida are similiar to the now discredited 70/30 figures for Prop. 8".

    And by the way, I a black gay man.

    Posted by: elg | Jan 7, 2009 11:23:23 AM

  9. Landon honey please look up the definition of racist before you use it please.

    Then you would realize the reverse racism bullshit is just that bullshit.

    Landon and Elg I can only imagine how you treat gay black males that just want to be accepted and feel welcome in your community.

    Posted by: CAJIVA | Jan 7, 2009 11:53:38 AM

  10. Oh yeah ELG before you come back with a bitchy smart ass comment, I'm full aware of the fact you are black which is even more sad.

    Posted by: CAJIVA | Jan 7, 2009 11:55:57 AM

  11. ELG: the fact that you are African American doesn't mean that you are any more or less able to look at a situation objectively. The core issue is that most people in America, African Americans included, see things through the prism of "race." Race has been largely debunked as a scientific concept and that calls into question why we rely on it as some sort of political diagnostic when there are other more useful predictors. It is very important to know that the data suggests a positive correlation between certain ages, less education, income, and greater church attendance with respect to a person's antipathy to gay marriage, BECAUSE it helps you craft your "marketing strategy." If we continue with the idea that ALL black people are anti-gay, you're leaving out African American voters that are pro-gay. That's simply not smart.

    GLENN: I don't think this is revisionist history. There were serious concerns with the accuracy of the CNN poll. I think this is an attempt to use good data to answer a fundamental question. I do agree that regardless of the data treating a group as a monolith is foolish,

    LANDON: First, whatever legitimate points you are trying make are often surrounded with so much venom that it is difficult to take your arguments seriously. Second, I'm not sure how you read Noah's post and label him a racist for what he said here. Third, I keep seeing all of these posts saying how African Americans are so biased against gay people but HRC polls have placed African American support for laws preventing discrimination against gays and laws adding sexual orientation to hate crimes at the SAME OR HIGHER LEVELS of support than white people. I don't know how you explain that if African Americans hate gay people so much.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 11:56:15 AM

  12. I agree with the earlier comment about the GLBT voter turnout. Let's start at home before we blame others..

    Posted by: Ellis | Jan 7, 2009 11:59:11 AM

  13. I think the issue was never just exactly how many more percentage points were black voters in favor of banning same-sex marriage versus the percentage points for other voters. The issue is that a minority group that once fought for "Equality For All" could turn around and say "Equality for All....except you fags."
    If the AA community had learned anything from their own struggles for civil rights, then the percentage that voted in favor of prop 8 should have been miniscule. Whether or not it was 70 percent or 60 percent--Hell, if it had been 'only' 40 percent--it is still an appalling lack of empathy.
    And I don't buy the excuse that it is because of.... "the strong religious tradition in the black community, where 57 percent of African American voters attend church at least once a week, compared with 42 percent of Californians overall."
    The black voters who voted to strip me of my civil rights made a CHOICE to place their Religion ahead of what their own experiance has taught them about the fair and decent treatment of fellow human beings. How could they forget their own history??
    Yes, it was wrong for ANY voters to vote YES on 8 but white, privileged, religious voters do not have the same history of oppression and therefore can be forgiven for their ignorance a little more easily than a population that has the painful memory of prejudicial marriage laws in their all too recent past.

    Posted by: JJH | Jan 7, 2009 12:03:49 PM

  14. Brandon:

    You are another person whose racism blinds him to seeing reason. You should be embarrassed by how far this contradicts your absurd insistence that blacks are not more anti-gay than the general populace. Stop being part of the problem, Brandon. Get rid of your internalized homophobia. It's hurting all of us.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 12:20:37 PM

  15. Boy Landon, you sure are awfully insane.

    There isn't anything in Brandon's post to indicate racism or internalized homophobia.

    Brandon is part of the solution. You aren't even part of the problem. I have no idea what the hell you are but you don't help. That I know as much.

    Pat Robertson. Rick Warren. James Dobson. White. Moral Majority. Church of Latter Day Saints. Vatican. White.

    The majority of voters who make up the anti-gay movement in the United States. White.

    This isn't racism. This is fact.

    Posted by: Damon | Jan 7, 2009 12:49:34 PM

  16. JJH I agree about that most blacks don't look at the fact that discrimination is discrimination. Most of it is just ignorance that can be overcame.

    Now what is the excuse for alot of white gays that show obvious racism towards gay blacks and blacks in general. I've been treated better by white straight people than by white gays.

    Posted by: CAJIVA | Jan 7, 2009 1:01:30 PM

  17. Read the bitches for points, Miss Cajiva! READ THEM!

    Posted by: Q | Jan 7, 2009 1:05:32 PM

  18. Dear Damon,

    I can certainly understand how my anger at previous abuse heaped on me by Brandon and Noah might read as insanity. And you are absolutely right: white bigotry against gays is a much more potent threat against gays in America than black bigotry is. This is both because there are more whites in America and because homophobia is most harmful when an examined pillar of mainstream belief.

    Actually, I am not angered by African American homophobia. That African Americans are more bigoted against us than other groups is a direct result of disadvantage. Uneducated people believe dumb things, and the historical effort to deprive blacks of education is the most inexcusable evil of our mistreatment of African people. Men without economic opportunity often over-value machismo to compensate, and that makes them hostile to sexual minorities. If African Americans had not been treated so badly, they would not treat gays so badly. This has nothing to do with what African people are inherently like-- it has to do with how one disadvantaged culture group treats another.

    What angers me is that bigotry against gays is so widely tolerant by African Americans. It disgusts me when black gays make excuses or deny homophobia. I think Obama's immersion in African American culture makes him more tolerant of anti-gay bigots than he should be. That made me nervous before the election, I said so, and abuse was hurled at me. That anyone was stupid enough to blame African American voters in California for the passage of Proposition 8 made me very angry and I said so repeatedly. I think much of that race-baiting was done by right wingers hoping to whip up discontent, but some of it was real and that is disgusting.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 1:10:22 PM

  19. Landon: can you please explain how my racism blinds me to seeing reason? And against whom am I being racist? Or, how I have internalized fear of gay people? It seems to me that you are so insistent upon advancing your views that you fail to read what people actually write. I never said that "blacks are not more anti-gay than the general populace." I merely questioned the generalizations that many make about African Americans as to their level of anti-gay bias and provided two CONCRETE examples where the theory about African Americans being anti-gay isn't supported by facts. I am open to the possibility that African Americans are more anti-gay, but I am not going to rely on anecdotal or biased evidence to draw that conclusion.

    JJH: I agree that people should be more empathetic. That said, I take issue with what you wrote for two reasons. The first is the exceptionalism/ bias of singling out of African Americans. You stated that a 40% vote would have been an appalling lack of empathy. According to the CNN poll, Asian Americans voted 49% in favor of the poll. Shouldn't Asians have been more supportive? Japanese Americans were placed in INTERNMENT CAMPS in California during WWII. Shouldn't they have been more supportive? And what about Mormon's? Isn't there religious bias against Mormon's? Shouldn't they have been more sympathetic? And what about Jews? The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations SUPPORTED Prop 8. Given the experience of the last 2000 years-- including the Holocaust-- shouldn't Jews "know better?" To my mind, the question is not why some African Americans in particular didn't get it, but why so many PEOPLE didn't get it.

    The second issue that I take with your discussion is the assumption about human nature, i.e., that experiences with oppression make one more empathetic. Unfortunately, is EMPIRICALLY incorrect. See the Lucifer Effect, pg. 144 by Stanford Professor Philip Zimbardo. If you let go of the assumption that an experience with oppression necessarily sensitizes you, you see the behavior for what it is: people not being empathetic-- not "black people" not being empathetic.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 1:20:33 PM

  20. CAJIVA:
    There is NO excuse for any white people to behave badly towards blacks, gay or straight. But I don't think you would see 60 percent of white gays vote to strip blacks of their civil rights.
    Some seem to think that just because there is some racism in the gay community (and I'm not denying that it exists or that it is WRONG) that blacks are justified in denying gays their civil rights.... I don't see it that way.
    That is certainly not a very effective way to foster better understanding between people of different races.
    Historically, gays were very supportive of the civil rights struggles in the 50's and 60's. It's just a sad, sad thing that blacks didn't return the favor.

    Posted by: JJH | Jan 7, 2009 1:20:35 PM

  21. "I think Obama's immersion in African American culture makes him more tolerant of anti-gay bigots than he should be."

    This not really supported by reality. Obama's greatest immersion in African American arguably came through his 20 years in Rev. Wright's church. For all the criticism leveled at Wright for whatever reason, the fact remains that he was a very pro-gay pastor.

    Posted by: lodestar | Jan 7, 2009 1:20:44 PM

  22. Dear Cajiva,

    I will point out one really thing to you. Gay people aren't out there actively campaigning against the rights of African Americans. We do not write editorials about how disgusting it is for African Americans to compare themselves to us. We do not tolerate the presence of avowed racists and use our influence to keep racism an accepted cultural belief. Of course, only a minority of African Americans are out there fighting against the rights of gay people. But African American culture lags behind American culture in general in disapproval of overt hostility to gays. When gay people in the United States vote to overturn the laws of blacks-- or even suggest that it would be okay to do so-- there will be some point in comparing gay racism with black homophobia. Gay racism is awful- I've been part of protests against two San Francisco bars for racist policy- but is no threat to the actual rights of black people.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Jan 7, 2009 1:25:42 PM

  23. Landon: please point out where I "heaped" abuse on you or made a pejorative personal comment about you. I have taken issue with your positions on this post and I have, as with virtually all of my postings on Towleroad, been respectful toward those with whom I disagree. I did not accuse you of being a racist. (You did accuse me of this.) I did not accuse you having internalized homophobia. (You accused me of this.) As I said in my first post, the "venom" that surrounds your post clouds whatever good points you may be making. BTW: I'm not even sure what "abuse" Noah heaped on you. I don't even see a comment from him to you in this string.

    Posted by: Brandon | Jan 7, 2009 1:31:13 PM

  24. Noah, where does the 50% statistic of gay people sitting out the election come from?

    Posted by: db | Jan 7, 2009 1:36:40 PM

  25. "What angers me is that bigotry against gays is so widely tolerant by African Americans. It disgusts me when black gays make excuses or deny homophobia. I think Obama's immersion in African American culture makes him more tolerant of anti-gay bigots than he should be..."

    Damn, we have such little respect for gay history.

    Landon, have you seen the documentary "Before Stonewall"? Without tolerance from the American Black community in major cities in this country in the early 20th Century it may have taken much longer for a gay sub-culture to develop period. Most White Americans weren't going to allow a gay speakeasy to exist in their communities.

    There is some evidence I'm told that eventhough black folks are conservative on the gay marriage rights issue, they are not on other issues of gay civil rights (ending employment discrimination, housing rights, violence against gays, etc.) The issue of religion comes into it, and this new study proves it.
    You compare Black American fundamentalist Christians' views on gay marriage rights to White American fundamentalist Christians views on that subject--then tell me how much more anti-gay black people are.

    And Landon,

    if you attack black people you're going to get a response from black gays...'cause contrary to popular belief-- being gay doesn't turn you five shades lighter. Lord, David Ehrenstein would look like a Sweede then!

    If we attacked Italians don't you think Italian-American Gays would respond? If we attacked Irish-Catholics, don't you think Irish-Catholic Gays would defend their community?

    I dare to you attack Cajuns, and see the reaction of Cajun Gays!

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 7, 2009 1:46:38 PM

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