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Proposition 8 and the civil rights struggle: A tough comparison

December 7, 2008 | 10:37 am

Since the passage of Prop. 8, some supporters of gay marriage have likened their cause to the civil-rights struggle of the 1960s. This is significant because exit polls showed blacks in California overwhelmingly backed the ban on gay marriage. But Clarence Page writes in the Salt Lake Tribune that he doesn't think comparing California in 2008 to the South in the 1960s will draw many blacks into the pro-gay-marriage camp:

"Gay is the New Black," declares the Dec. 16 issue of The Advocate, a leading gay-oriented magazine. Well, not quite. How about, "Gay is the new gray"? The gray area for a lot of black Americans like me is not in the issue of gay rights but in the comparison some gay activists make between that issue and the movement for racial equality. I don't oppose same-sex marriage. After years of arguments from the other side about perceived threats to the sanctity of marriage, I have yet to see any impact by gay marriages on my marriage. Nor do I expect to see any. Besides, single-parenting has climbed so high in the past half-century, especially in black America, that I am delighted whenever anyone still wants to get married. But gay rights leaders should think twice before drawing too many comparisons to the fight for racial equality. They are tragically correct to point out the murders, beatings, arsons and other hate crimes that continue to be perpetrated against homosexuals. But the history and nature of our oppression is so different as to serve to alienate potential allies instead of winning them over.

Meanwhile, Caitlin Flanagan and Benjamin Schwarz write in the New York Times about the liberal angst in California over the Obama/Prop. 8 win: "Left-leaning California’s horror about this newly revealed schism between two of its favorite sons is a situation that cries out for a villain, but the one that liberal white Hollywood has chosen for the role probably won’t make it all the way to the third act. 'It’s their churches,' somebody whispered to one of us not long after the election."

--Shelby Grad

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