Another Point On Barry And Gays

I meant to bang on this more, but I got so pissed off when I was writing. Anyway, this point was made in comments:

Focusing on Barry's opposition to recognizing gay marriage causes us to miss the forest for the trees; in a majority black city with a majority black political leadership, the City Council voted overwhelmingly (12 to 1) IN SUPPORT of recognizing gay marriage (albeit ones performed outside of DC). This represents a great political victory for the gay rights movements, and refutes the meme which claims that the African-American community is monolithically, implacably, and irresolutely opposed to recognizing gay civil marriage.

I don't think that can be said loudly enough. There are 12 members of the City Council. Seven of them are black. One is Marion Barry. To anyone who's followed Barry's career, I'm not sure why "Marion Barry Is A Demagogue" is breaking news. It's really wrong to erase the other six votes on that measure, and make Barry the face of blacks on the Council, and blacks in the City.

Here's something else--consider the fact that D.C. is in the South. Not the deep South, but the South all the same. It's bordered by two slave states, and one Confederate state. I can't think of any other southern jurisdiction that's gone this far on gay marriage. To the contrary, most Southern states have set about the business of a constitutional ban.

That leaves with a very uncomfortable fact--the most progressive place for gays in the South, is also the blackest. I wouldn't draw too much causality from that statement. Much like I wouldn't draw too much causality from black and Prop 8. But that didn't stop anyone then, did it? Why should it stop them now?

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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