Black & Gay – Bottom of the Heap?

RawStory.Com, one of my regular reads, has an article up that struck a note with me. It points out that the blacks same sex couples have to most to lose or gain in the fight for same sex marriage.

For at least two decades, the religious right has followed a clear strategy of pitting gay people against people of color. They have argued, incorrectly, that sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws constitute “special rights” that threaten the civil rights of “legitimate minorities.” A recent report by Concerned Women for America is titled “Homosexuals Hijack Civil Rights Bus.”

While racism and anti-gay bias are indeed different, and while the situation of gay people in this country is quite different from that of Black Americans, anti-gay groups are wrong to portray legal protections for gay people as a threat to people of color. In fact, Census data indicate that Black same-sex couples may benefit more than White gay couples from the ability to marry, and will be hurt most by the slew of anti-gay family amendments that were approved in 13 states and considered but rejected by Congress this year.

Black same-sex couples have more to gain from the legal protections of marriage, and more to lose in all 13 states that passed amendments banning marriage and other forms of partner recognition. A groundbreaking study released in October 2004 by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Black Justice Coalition shows that Black lesbian couples are parenting at almost the same rate as Black married couples, and that Black same-sex couples parent at twice the rate of White gay couples. They also earn less, are less likely to own a home, and are more likely to hold public sector jobs.

Three in five Black female same-sex households (61 percent) include at least one child of one or both of the same-sex partners. Black lesbian couple households are almost as likely as Black married opposite-sex couple households to include a child of one or both of the adults (69 percent). Nearly half of Black male same-sex couple households (46 percent include a child of one or both of the partners.

Black same-sex couples earn $20,000 less per year than White same-sex couples and are less likely to own the home they live in. They also earn less than Black married opposite-sex couples.

Black same-sex partners are more likely than White gay partners to hold public sector jobs, which may provide domestic partner health insurance. Eight of the 11 state anti-gay marriage amendments approved on November 2 ban or threaten domestic partner benefits provided through state and local governmental entities, such as Dekalb County, Georgia or Ohio State University.

Black same-sex couples are almost as likely as Black married opposite-sex couples to report living in the same residence as five years earlier, a key indicator of relationship stability.

These facts underscore the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration’s aggressive attempts to deprive same sex couples equal marriage rights while touting its multi-million “African-American Healthy Marriage Initiative” as a way to strengthen the African American family. This report clearly shows that denying the protections that come with marriage disproportionately hurts the ability of gay and lesbian African American couples to save money, provide for their children, buy a house, or prepare for retirement.

I wanted to blog about it, but I’m still thinking of just what I want to say about it. I’m posting about it because it’s something I’d like more people to know about and dicuss.

The first paragraph of the article, concerning conservatives strategy of pitting the black community and the gay community, strikes a chord with me because I’ve been in that crossfire for sometime. Growing up gay, while being raised in a very religious, baptist family, I became acutely aware of that conflict because it helped forge a deep, wide rift between me and my parents; one that we’ve yet to succesfully bridge, though attempts have been made and continue. Still, it occurs to me that my parents, who are staunch Democrats who never miss an opportunity to vote, probably voted in favor of Georgia’s amendment banning same sex marriage. I say probably, because I’ve yet to ask them about it. I’m not sure I want to know the answer. It’s a subject that I tend to recoil from, mainly because it touches on some very painful issues for me. But that makes it no less valid.

The other thing that occurs to me is just how much I’m affected personally by what the article outlines. Being a black gay man with a white partner, it doesn’t sound like the report that the article is about addresses people in my situation and how the things the article mentions apply in my situation. But perhaps the effects are not quite the same.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this out there.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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