One of the many holes in the progressive coalition that brought President-elect Barack Obama to power is making itself known in California. According to the Sacramento Bee:
...an overwhelming number--70 percent--of black voters in California...voted for Proposition 8 and helped secure its passage, according to exit polling conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. African Americans, energized by Barack Obama's presidential bid, boosted their numbers at the polls this year to 10 percent of the state's electorate, up from 6 percent in 2004. "The Obama people were thrilled to turn out high percentages of African Americans, but (Proposition 8) literally wouldn't have passed without those voters," said Gary Dietrich, president of Citizen Voice, a nonpartisan voter awareness organization.
Latinos were 18 percent of California's voters, and through sheer numbers also contributed to Proposition 8's success. But 53 percent of Latino voters supported the measure, a much lower percentage than black voters. Among white and Asian voters, 49 percent voted for the measure.
African-American Democrats are fiscally progressive (to wit, in favor of more government benefits for low-income Americans) but many are socially quite conservative, due to the influence of the black church. As the Bee article notes, black support for the ballot initiative to ban gay marriage is what propelled it to victory. This may come as a surprise to many white liberals who believe African-Americans to be on their side on social issues as well as financial issues.
I'm not sure I agree with the following citation, because it comes from an antiabortion rights website, but it represents the feelings of a segment of African-Americans:
Based upon various studies over the past 25 years, it is clear that a substantial majority of African Americans are opposed to abortion. An early study published in 1973 conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Charlotte, North Carolina, concluded that black Americans, especially young black males, are suspicious that genocide is the aim of family planning programs controlled by whites
It is also true that African-American women experience higher rates of abortions than other groups of women.
In the United States, the abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women.
How the pro-choice Obama administration will bring these two groups (African-Americans and gays and lesbian) together during the next four years could prove to be more difficult than righting the economy. Stay tuned.
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By Bonnie Erbe