As political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson once wrote, "The gay rights vs. civil rights comparison has long been a sore spot for many blacks."
Here in California, that comparison has special significance. Voters head to the polls next month to vote on a ballot measure, which could overturn a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing statewide, same-sex marriages.
According to an article in today's Los Angeles Times, "African American voters could play a crucial role in the fight over same-sex marriage. Though they make up only about 6% of the electorate in California, they are expected to vote in record numbers this election because of Barack Obama's presence on the ballot."
A "yes" vote on the measure means that the Constitution would be amended to disallow gay marriage.
... The Yes on 8 campaign is counting on them [blacks], arguing that some polls suggest African Americans are generally less open to same-sex unions than other groups.
"They are our strongest supporters," said Frank Schubert, who is managing the Yes on 8 campaign.
But opponents of the proposition say they think that black voters may be more tolerant than many political professionals predict.
"People have this impression that black people in general are more homophobic than the population as a whole," said Ron Buckmire, who heads the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, a black gay rights group in Los Angeles.
Both sides, meanwhile, are contending that Obama would approve of their view. That's because the first black presidential candidate of a major party has said that he is against Proposition 8 but has also expressed opposition to gay marriage.
"He said both sides. We are picking the one we like," said Derek McCoy, a minister who came from Washington, D.C., in August to organize African American clergy across the state to oppose the measure.
What do you think?