Monday, December 08, 2008

Racial divisions challenge gay rights movement

"I believe that there's been a reluctance, if not negligence, to dialogue about homosexuality within our communities, our workplaces, our churches"

Karen Grigsby Bates writes:
Votes for — and against — California's Proposition 8, the so-called anti-gay marriage initiative, were close enough that neither side could declare victory on election night. But by Wednesday morning, it was evident the measure had passed. The gay community was stunned. That morning, at a press conference called to announce a legal challenge to the passage of Proposition 8, lesbian activist Robin Tyler, with her wife at her side, offered, "This is not a culture war — a lot of times the press refers to [gays] getting married as a culture war. This is a civil rights movement."

Still smarting from their defeat, gay activists are reaching out to the black community to discuss the need for equal rights for all. At a recent town hall convened by The Los Angeles Sentinel, the West's largest black newspaper, publisher Danny Bakewell Jr. says he's keenly aware that homosexuality of any color is still considered taboo in many parts of the black community. Although the bulk of black voters supported Proposition 8 (most for religious reasons), The Sentinel refused to endorse it. "Until we can openly and honestly address our issues, our differences and our concerns, we're never going to be able to overcome our fear," Bakewell insists. The all-black town hall, designed "for a discussion within the family," was a good start, Bakewell said. READ MORE