Gay rights issues, particularly same-sex marriage, has been roiling within the African American community in Southern California. This has come to a head around the Reverend Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles. He’s come under pressure from his national board for calling for the repeal of Proposition 8. Indeed, Lee, who has also been a supporter of organized labor causes such as advocating for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, was active last fall on speaking against the proposition when it was on the state ballot during the presidential race.
Initially there was much ballyhooing after the election that black votes were responsible for Prop.8 passing. There were claims based on exit polling that blacks had voted 70% to 30% for its passage. These numbers engendered a lot of finger pointing and various OpEds and commentaries all over the map decrying the gay-black split, the historic group denial long attributed to the black community not acknowledging its own LGBT folks and on and on. Calmer heads prevailed and further analysis of the data showed those numbers were a tad off. African Americans who came to the polls last fall, motivated in no small part by Barack Obama being at the top of the ticket, did vote a clear majority, 58%, for Prop. 8’s passage. This is higher than the overall 52% among all voters. Not great, but not insurmountable.