A new study on California's vote to ban same-sex marriage has revealed that far fewer African Americans voted for the ban. Exit polls released shortly after election day showed that about 70% voted for the ban, but the new in-depth study found a much different number: 57% to 59%. Out of roughly 700,000 African American votes, that's a huge difference.
Though I don't want to get into the details of the study, it does conclude that race was less of a factor in determining one's vote - it was more age, ideology and religious beliefs across ethnic groups.
As a community, the LGBT response to the vote has been to focus on minority groups in an effort to educate them more about who we are and how we live our lives, to show them that we are just like everyone else. And though this is good and must continue, this new study shows that only time can make the big change. Why? A quote from The Advocate.com:
"Perhaps surprisingly, the study also revealed that partisanship and ideology trumped the fact of knowing someone who is openly LGBT. About two-thirds of the state’s self-identified conservatives knew someone who was gay and about 4 out of five of them voted for the measure – the same exact ratio of conservatives who voted for Prop. 8 but didn’t know an openly LGBT person. Republicans demonstrated a similar pattern, with about four out of five of them voting to pass the ban regardless of whether they knew anyone who was out or not."
To really make a significant change in society so that, if necessary, same-sex marriage can pass on the ballot, people's beliefs and ideology must change, something that will likely never happen. Reaching out to this group doesn't appear to make that much of a difference because 4 out of 5 of them, who knew someone from the LGBT community, still voted to strip us of our rights.
So where's the hope? What's the key to our success? The new generation involved in what is currently known as the "youth movement." Just eight years ago, Prop 22 passed with 61% of the vote, while Prop 8 barely made it with 52% (Graph). Many of the "No on Prop 8" votes came from those who weren't old enough to vote in 2000, and not just secular youth. There's a panic in the right wing as they realize their own youth are trending towards support for same-sex marriage (read this illuminating article from ABCNews.com about the shift). This shift isn't just for gay rights, but also abortion.
This new generation is our key to success, our hope. When I say it may take time for our success, I don't mean a lot of time. I'm not going to "wait", a piece of advice MLK rejected in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". I'm going to help educate those who are open-minded, who are willing to look at me as a person and not a plague to "the family", who can see past lifestyle differences and respectfully acknowledge me as a fellow citizen of their country, not a second-class citizen. I'm not going to waste my resources on those who have proven again and again that though they may love me to my face, will continually stab me in the back by voting my rights away. And if we do in fact get a new initiative on the ballot in 2010, a mere year away, to allow same-sex marriage, I have complete faith that, with the help of this new generation of both secular and evangelical youth and our renewed focus on them, it will indeed pass.