I love exit polls. You know, those breakdowns of who votes how. Long after Barack Obama gave the “speech heard ’round the world,” I was still up into the wee hours analyzing the exit poll data on CNN.com. I was particularly interested in details of that heartbreaking California Proposition 8 result. Since the yes/no breakdown is sometimes confusing (yes, I want gay marriage? yes, I don’t want gay marriage?), I will delineate based on a for/against basis, as in for gay marriage or against gay marriage. Here are the bullet points:
Many breakdowns were very close to a 50/50 vote, not surprising since the result we have is about 52% against and 48% for. Men and women both were close to 50/50, maybe 51/49 or 48/52, but still in the generally-split catagory.
Hispanics and Asians were also close to 50/50 with the Asians being slightly more for and the Hispanics being slightly against, but still about 50/50.
People with more education tended to be more for and people with less education tended to be more against. Not surprising. The more educated the person is, the more they recognize the wisdom in equality for all. (Generally speaking, of course. Obviously, there are always exceptions to every rule, so don’t send me a zinger if you’re an open-minded, equality-minded high school drop-out.)
People of higher incomes tended to be more for; people with lower incomes tended to be more against. But, people who make more money tend to be better educated, so refer to the above.
The only two demographic areas with an overwhelming majority against were evangelical Christians (not a surprise) and African-Americans, who went about 70% against.
So, the question I have is this: Shouldn’t a group which understands oppression as well as any in our society stand on the side of expanding rights for others rather than denying them? I’m not asking anyone to forego their personal beliefs or their particular version of morality. I’m not even asking anyone to understand. Whether you “get” homosexuality or not, wouldn’t a person who has felt the pain of second-class citizen status take the position of “erring” on the side of giving rights rather than “erring” on the side of withholding them?
Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I have been for years about eradicating racism. And that certainly won’t ever change. My strong desire for equality is not a tit-for-tat proposition. But, I can’t help but ponder the fact that if the African-American population of California had stood up for the right of gays and lesbians to marry to the same degree that gays and lesbians voted for Barack Obama, . . . equality would have won.