I recently came across this article in the New York Times called “Race, Religion, and Same-Sex Marriage” by Frank Bruni. Bruni employs a variety of public polling and voting statistics to show racial differences in regards to support (or lack-there-of) for same sex marriage in a number of states. From the data, it clear that African Americans are less likely to support gay marriage and he lists two reasons as to why. Bruni mentions religion and civil rights as two key components for black opposition to gay marriage. For one, African Americans oppose gay marriage on the basis of religious grounds as many pastors and churches are opposed to it. The second reason he suggests is that African Americans are angry, particular at some gay rights groups for equating their struggles to that of African Americans during the civil rights movement.
As someone of mixed race (African American/Hispanic) and who was born into a religious family, I definitely see the opposition particularly among the religious and among blacks. Gay marriage however, as Bruni mostly discusses, only delves into the tip of the iceberg. From my experiences not only from my family but living in predominantly minority communities (mostly African/Caribbean American), there is at times a great opposition to homosexuality in general. Living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a community with one of (if not the highest) HIV rate in the country, some people see homosexuality and gay marriage as one of the causes. In popular culture whether it is film, hip-hop or rap music or other forms of media and entertainment, homosexuality is degraded and homophobia was in many degrees enforced for a number of years. As a former track athlete and an avid fan of sports, the three major sports in the country (Two with a predominantly black population), the issue of sex-same relationships is hardly ever discussed.
Furthermore, one can argue that the whole case or debate concerning gay rights/gay marriage is an example of the tyranny of the majority. The majority of population in various areas of the country does not support gay-marriage but within certain areas, communities or neighborhoods there is greater opposition depending on race and ethnicity. Though the LGBT community suffers discrimination like many minorities have endured and continue to endure, many facets of the population, majority or minority are against equal rights or marriage for gays.
Nonetheless, there is a great level of intersectionality between the struggles and conflicts between African Americans and the LGBT community. Issues with health such as STDs and AIDs, the religious and ethical debate of same sex marriage, popular culture and its effects on the perception of gays within the Black community, and the anger and disdain towards the comparison of using the civil rights movement in the support for gay rights add to the multiple layers of oppression and opposition that the LGBT community faces. At the same time, the struggles are not separate from each other but have nonetheless created a further divide.
Furthermore, even though Frank Bruni brings up some interesting points and statistics, I felt that the article left a lot to be desired. For one, the article does not really go into detail concerning the public opinion of African Americans concerning gay rights in general. Some people support homosexuality or gay rights but do not necessarily support the idea of marriage. Marriage is only one component of many in the discussion for equal rights. The media tends to fixate on one particular issue within an entire realm of social issues (gay marriage being one of them) and it would be interesting to see, through public opinion polls and statistics, the changes in opinions and attitudes based on race and ethnicity.
Link to article below.