No, Blacks Did Not Destroy Gay Marriage
Finally, we have a good analysis (pdf) of the levels of African-American support for Proposition 8. Guess what? It probably wasn’t nearly as high as the exit polls suggested:
“Surveys conducted just before and just after Election Day found much smaller differences in support for Proposition 8 between African Americans and voters as a whole than did the NEP exit poll. The NEP result should thus be treated as an outlier that overstates black support for Proposition 8.” (p. 9)
That’s higher than Californians as a whole, but:
“As shown in Figure 4, African Americans are more religious (as measured by frequency of attendance at religious services) than any other racial or ethnic group of California voters. (…) As shown in Figure 5, controlling for frequency of religious attendance helps explain why African Americans supported Proposition 8 at higher levels than the population as a whole. Among Californians who attend worship at least weekly, support for Proposition 8 was nearly uniform across all racial and ethnic groups. Among those who attend worship less than weekly, majorities of every racial and ethnic group voted “no” on Proposition 8. The differences that remain among groups are not statistically significant at the 95% level of confidence.”
So despite all the brouhaha after the election, it turns out that African-Americans’ level of support for Prop 8 was not as high as reported, and is moreover almost entirely explained by their levels of church attendance.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, is mad, as well he should be. I am too. Obviously, even one homophobe, whether white, black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Martian, is one too many. But so is one person who blames blacks for the passage of Proposition 8 before the facts are in. Ta-Nehisi:
“There are people in my business who took to the highest hills to decry the betrayal of black Californians, and to this day, are giddily noting that blacks sunk marriage equality in California, who foist the failure of marriage equality on seven percent of the electorate . I will not speculate on their motives. But let’s see how loudly they address this study. Let’s see how much ink we see spilled revisiting those assumptions. Or will it be on to the next calamity, where the blacks–or the Arabs, or the Latinos–can be trotted out and blamed for the failings of others. For the failings of us all.”