Jeune Afrique, France
By Jean-Eric Boulin
Translated By Cara Ceriani
6 June 2012
Edited by Jonathan Douglas
France - Jeune Afrique - Original Article (French )
The majority of African-Americans remain unreceptive to the union of two people of the same sex. Though things are changing, little by little, as demonstrated by President Barack Obama’s recent statements.
Gay marriage divides Americans like never before. After the historic position taken by Barack Obama in its favor, a survey reveals that 43 percent of Americans remain opposed, while 47 percent declare themselves in favor of it. African-Americans are by far the most reluctant. According to the same survey, less than 35 percent of African-Americans would approve of same sex marriage. The main reason? The influence exerted by various churches in this community.
With very few exceptions, African-American pastors have a traditional view of marriage, which completely excludes the union between two people of the same sex. Therefore, they have very little appreciation for Obama's announcement — who, as a religious man himself, took care to call eight of them, just two hours after his interview on ABC, in order to explain his position.
Some are outraged that the fight for gay marriage might be compared to the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. "Unlike blacks, homosexuals have never been slaves in this country. To forget this shows a serious lack of respect for the African-American community," says an opinion leader.* Whether intentionally or not, these resistant comments give ammunition to the anti-gay marriage lobby groups, like the powerful National Organization for Marriage. The strategy declared by the latter is specifically designed to widen the gap between blacks and gays, two communities who are otherwise overwhelmingly Democratic.
But things are starting to change. Black personalities — like the rapper Jay-Z, the actress Mo'Nique, and the mayor of Newark, Cory Booker — recently showed their support of gay marriage. In February, the State of Maryland legalized it at the last minute, thanks to the votes of black supporters. And on May 20, the NAACP, an important organization for civil rights, also ended up affirming its support for gay marriage. For Julian Bond, the organization’s former chairman, "the myth that the black community would be hostile to gay marriage is well and truly broken.”*
During the November presidential election, black voters, in principle, should not be made to pay for Obama's courageous stand on the issue. Nor should all Americans, even though nothing is guaranteed. After all, according to the same survey, same-sex marriage is the main issue of concern for only ... seven percent of Americans. Well behind the economy.
*Editor’s note: These quotations, accurately translated, could not be verified.
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