New Study Finds Race Not Deciding Factor on Prop. 8 same-sex marriage ban

By Terry Keleher Jan 08, 2009

A new study released this week finds that neither African Americans nor any other ethnicity were disproportionately in support of Proposition 8, which amended California’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Some of the key findings of the study, co-authored by Patrick Eagan at New York University and Kenneth Sherill at Hunter College and released under the auspices of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, include: • The way someone voted on the ballot measure was influenced mostly by the person’s age, religiosity, party affiliation and general political ideology. • Though post-election media reporting pegged African American support for Prop. 8 as high as 70 percent, this study found the actual number to be between 57 and 59 percent. • The level of support for the initiative by African Americans exceeded that of white and Asian American voters, but the study attributes this to religiousity more than race because 57 percent of African Americans attend church at least once a week, compared with 42 percent of whites and 40 percent of Asian Americans. The study may take some of the edge off of the racial wedge, but it doesn’t lessen the necessary work that lies ahead for building a lot more bridges across LGBT, racial and religious communities–starting especially with where these communities already intersect. In response to the study, the Chicago Tribute reports that the Rev. Mark Wilson, of Oakland, a former pastor of Berkeley’s McGee Avenue Baptist Church and currently the outreach coordinator for the African-American activist group And Marriage for All said it’s time to "redouble our work with people of faith" and suggests building long-term relationships between African-American churches and the LGBT community. Download the Egan-Sherrill study