Gay Marriage In The District

It's very, very close to happening:

After months of debate, the council passed the bill 11 to 2. It still must take a second vote in two weeks before the measure can go to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who has said he will sign it.

If the bill survives a required congressional review period, the District will join New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts in allowing same-sex marriage.

I want to take a moment to discuss the race angle, here. I think it's very likely that blacks in the District are oppose gay marriage more than whites. There are many reasons why this is probably true, reasons we've talked about before. And yet, the political leadership in the District--including the mayor--is significantly more socially liberal, than the population it represents. I think this is generally true, nationally, also.

Part of this, I'd argue, comes from working, in close proximity, with people, of all stripes, who are concerned with equality. You start out thinking only about yourself--but you end up having to think about women of all colors, gays of all colors, poor and working people of all colors. Maybe I'm just projecting here, I don't know. Modern liberalism has taken its share of hits (many of them deserved) for trafficking in identity politics. But the flip-side is that you become better informed about the politics of other identities. Again this is true of people in "leadership" positions, not of the "rank and file."

I went off to college a homophobic quasi-black nationalist, with only a rudimentary understanding of class and gender. I was the sort of dude who would have taken to comparing the Holocaust to the Middle Passage. It's shameful to admit to that, but it's true. At historically black, and generally liberal, Howard University, I was forced not simply to confront my own history, less the propaganda, but confront and acknowledge other people's history too.

I guess for me, when I think about being a liberal, I think about that experience. There are many, many problems with cobbling together a bunch of aggrieved parties. But that cobbling by the Left, that process which people now deride as "multiculturalism" or "political correctness" is exactly what allowed me to see past my front door. I don't pretend that my views are representative of black people--but my experience as a black person heavily influences them and has allowed me to see things which, as a young man, I could not. Not that it plays out the same for everyone, but some of the same socialization must be at work amongst the black political leadership in D.C.

Lastly, a word on Marion Barry's protest vote:

Before casting his vote, Barry gave an impassioned speech noting that he is a longtime supporter of gay rights. But Barry said that his constituents oppose same-sex marriage, and that he believed the council should have authorized a referendum on the issue.

"I stand here today to express in no uncertain terms my strong commitment to the gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender community on almost every issue except this one," Barry said.

He then went on to plead with gay and lesbian residents not to hold his "no" vote against him.

I obviously don't agree with this. But I think it's worth noting that there is very little difference between Barry and Barack Obama on gay rights. Barry may even be more progressive.