Always nice to get some reporting from the ground. Adam, tempers some of my enthusiasm for my old home, and notes that this weekend's victory probably has a lot more to do with strategy than with war against homophobia:
I would say that it's very early to draw too many conclusions from
the results in Ward 8. The marriage equality resolution passed in large
part because the people who really cared about the issue showed up, and
those people were in favor. Thirty-two people can hardly be seen as an
accurate representation of views in Ward 8, which has a population of
70,000 people. Polling suggests that in a citywide referendum,
supporters of marriage equality would be facing an uphill battle, which
is precisely why opponents support a referendum and gay-rights
advocates oppose one.
At the same time, I think polling on the subject
has largely overstated the intensity of black opposition to marriage
equality in D.C: My theory is that if gay marriage was legalized, no
one would care. But if it were put to a vote, the result would be very
close. That's because while black people tend to be more opposed to gay
marriage, it's not an identity-defining issue in the same way it is for
white folks in the religious right. The memory of institutionalized
oppression creates doubt where in others there might be religious
I think black voters, particularly in D.C., are malleable on this issue. (We did, after all, have
domestic partnership laws "before it was cool"). The line that got the
most applause during the entire meeting was the Rev. Wiley's
declaration that "we would be in serious trouble if, as slaves, our
freedom was put to a referendum." But that's just what might happen,
and if gay-rights activists drop the ball in reaching out to the black
community like they did in California, they'll lose.
I think this pretty much on the money. It's a winnable fight. And a lose-able one. That said, I'd be shocked if this came up for referendum. Although part of me almost wishes that it would. I really believe we could win it.
Look at me, talking that we shit. I mean, I like boobs as much as the next guy, so take this with a grain of salt...