Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prop 8 and the Minority Myth

OK, I want to address one of the things that's been kicking around the media and blogosphere that bothers me. Even before the election there were a number of articles that I read that speculated that a high turnout of black and Latino voters who likely support Obama would be bad news for same-sex unions in California.

Now, Obama has been elected president, while Prop 8, which allows an amendment to California's constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman, passed and several media outlets and pundits are almost casually tossing out the idea that Prop 8s success is due to the large minority turnout.

I don't think so, and neither does statistics whiz Nate Silver

There are a lot of other factors involved, and it was going to be a close call no matter which way, we all knew.

The thing that bothers me most about this bit of misinformation is that it sets up an artificial division between minority groups. Yes, there are extreme social conservatives in minority ethnic groups, but among the new voters who came out specifically to support Obama I bet you'd be hard pressed to find many. Generally, I think the more conservative of Obama's supporters are the so-called "Goldwater Conservatives" who are somewhat more socially tolerant, and definitely opposed to legislation that blatantly invades people's private lives.

Yes, a lot of the Spanish-speaking minority are Roman Catholic, and the Vatican has spoken out against gay marriage, but it's important to realize that a lot of Catholics treat some edicts from the Vatican the way that college students treat orders from their parents not to drink on weekends. We love you dad, but... really?

I worry, though, that this particular meme has the potential to build up resentment among people who, as minorities seeking mainstream acceptance of their internal and external differences, have a lot to gain by building alliances. If I were a conspiracy theory type, I would almost say the anti-gay folks were pushing the idea for just that reason, kind of a "divide and conquer" strategy. I'm not saying this is true, and the media, with out "conflict sells papers" mentality, is certainly not helping, but think about it.

Let me, by the way, reiterate once again my out-and-out bafflement over this issue. Speaking as a straight, white male of European Catholic descent, I don't get it. How does it hurt me if any other two people want to get married? I'm not particularly interested in having sex with another man, but why should I give a damn if some other guy does? And God himself knows that any chance we have of building stronger family bonds, of whatever kinds of families, can only be good for our country in these troubled times.