Thousands of activists, volunteers and first time engaged citizens contributed their efforts to fight Prop 8 and preserve equal marriage in California.

While I celebrate every active opponent of Prop 8, two particular groups of people stood out to me in this struggle: LGBT and allied Mormons who took a decided stance against their church, and African-American LGBT activists, who fought homophobia in their communities without much of the resources available to other LGBT groups.

Amendment 2 passed because there was insufficient investment in reaching out to black voters and an inadequate “ground game” in the northern part of Florida.
– Nadine Smith, co-chair of the “Vote No on 2” campaign, which fought the same-sex marriage ban in Florida.

“I think that the kind of long-term investments, true alliance building and on-the-ground public education that needed to take place quickly frankly didn’t happen.”
– H. Alexander Robinson, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition

 

 

There are many hurt LGBT people and allies out there who are angry at The Mormon Church for funding Prop 8 and angry at California's African-American community for overwhelmingly voting for it. Those sentiments are widespread and we must acknowledge them.

As citizens we are hurt by the passage of Prop 8 and the anti-gay organizing that took place to pass this proposition. As fellow members of this American society we are taken aback by the voters who wish to separate us from our siblings, parents and straight friends, many of whom enjoy privileges we do not.

Yes, we are hurt. As activists however, we must recognize that the answer is not to antagonize entire communities that do not at the moment see things like we do. Please remember:

Our end goal is not for American society to see us only as LGBTQ people, but it is for American society to allow us to integrate our multiple identities seamlessly.

When we utter hateful comments about African-Americans or Mormons, we are also hurling hatred at LGBT African-Americans and LGBT Mormons, many of whom are now stuck in the middle of two warring factions.

From one side, LGBT blacks and LGBT Mormons are being told they are a contradiction and shouldn't exist. The other side is lumping them together with anti-gay forces just because of their skin color or religious affiliation. This madness must stop.

Affirmations, America's leading LGBT Mormon group, has done amazing work organizing equality-minded Mormons to support their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender partners in faith:

Affirmation seeks to meet the needs of persons experiencing frustration or alienation from family, friends, and the Church because of their sexual orientation. In addition to offering assistance during life's occasional struggles, Affirmation provides a life-long opportunity for service, fun, friendship, personal enrichment, and spiritual growth. When the journey of self-discovery, particularly the process of reconciling our gay selves within the context of our Mormon spiritual and cultural heritage, seems almost more than we can handle, Affirmation offers the opportunity of understanding and support by friends who travel the same path.

Also included among the membership of Affirmation are many friends and family, Mormon and non-Mormon, gay and straight. Associating with them, and feeling of their love and support is one of the greatest blessings to be obtained by joining and actively participating in Affirmation. We come to realize we are not alone. Together we work to develop ourselves and to build bridges of understanding.

“Don't Think They're all Against You”

Christine Alonso's body trembled and her lips quivered as she walked up and spoke to a few of the 50 protesters in front of the Mormon Temple in Oakland on Sunday.

“Don't think they're all against you,” said Alonso, 27, explaining that she was Mormon and that despite her religious leaders' support of a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, she was actively opposed.

As she walked away, she said, “I'm afraid that a gay or lesbian friend might hear that I'm Mormon and think that I want to
tear their marriage apart.”

As a South Asian gay man, I am used to being told that the South Asian community is hopelessly homophobic. It disgusts me when LGBT activists discount entire segments of the American societal fabric just on an “assumption” that, because someone is brown, they cannot possibly understand or support LGBT equality.

More often than not, I find that homophobia and transphobia grows out of a lack of contact among out and proud LGBT people and opponents of LGBT equality. The LGBT movement should consider the results of Passage 8 a terrible indictment of its under-funded, under-prioritized efforts to reach out to people of color communities.

People of color will make up a majority of America by 2050. This gives us 40 short years to wake up and reach out to our brown, yellow and black brothers and sisters. I promise you, having grown up in or alongside many of these communities, there is a receptive audience willing to rethink their values, if only we decide to finally embrace them. Many in these communities already support LGBT rights, and have been indispensable leading advocates.

An article from this week's Washington Blade brings home the need for real organizing by LGBT advocates in people of color communities:

H. Alexander Robinson, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in California there was “an unprecedented alliance” of black leaders working with the campaign to defeat Proposition 8, but the amount of time and resources following the May court ruling bringing gay nuptials to California were not optimal for winning more support from black voters.

“We knew going in that opinions in African-American communities on the issue of marriage were difficult,” he said. “I think that the kind of long-term investments, true alliance building and on-the-ground public education that needed to take place quickly frankly didn’t happen.”

Robinson said the National Black Justice Coalition aided the fight to stop Proposition 8 by holding meetings with black voters; convening forums for black legislators in the California General Assembly on same-sex marriage; partnering with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to distribute information; and developing an 84-page document outlining the benefits of same-sex unions…

In Florida, voters approved a measure prohibiting both same-sex marriage and civil unions with 62 percent of the vote. A 60-percent vote was necessary to make the initiative, known as Amendment 2, part of the state constitution.

Nadine Smith, co-chair of the “Vote No on 2” campaign, said in a statement Wednesday that while her organization was “disappointed” in the results, there was “a clear silver lining to this fight.”

Smith told the Blade that Amendment 2 passed because there was insufficient investment in reaching out to black voters and an inadequate “ground game” in the northern part of Florida.

“With those two things, I think the outcome would have been different,” she said.

We cannot reach out to racial minority communities or faith communities only when we need them. We have to start conversations, build bridges and integrate identities so that those structures will be in place long before a crisis like Prop 8 occurs.

If this is not a clarion call for a substantive change in the structure of the LGBT movement, then I do not know what it. Our civil rights movement is falling behind the times. We do not reflect the increasing racial and religious diversity of America in LGBT media or organizing, and that is hurting us at the ballot box. We must change that, unless you care to see another Prop 8 stir up somewhere else in our own nation.

theantidesi101

theantidesi101

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