Dominion of New York

Social Justice

May 21, 2012

What is The Tipping Point for Black Support of Marriage Equality?

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Written by: Kelly Virella

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/j valas images


resident Barack Obama.

Reverend Otis Moss.

Reverend William C. Barber.

Julian Bond.



And now the NAACP.

The names of black people and black organizations who have expressed support or lack of opposition to marriage equality over the past few days seems to grow longer day by day, unfurling like a scroll. When will we reach a tipping point?

As I walk around Harlem, I hear angry men on street corners saying things like “Now he’s (Obama’s) down with that gay shit! But “Politico reported last week that new poll shows black opposition is already eroding.

Public Policy Polling survey found 27 percent of black voters believe same-sex marriage should be legal, up from 20 percent in a poll conducted on May 6, three days before Obama announced his support. And 59 percent say they are opposed to gay marriage, down from 63 percent in the previous poll, which was taken before the North Carolina primary.

In the broader culture, public support for gay marriage has mushroomed over the past few years, says the Los Angeles Times. The cause cited most often is America’s increasing familiarity with gay people — as family members, friends, and TV characters — the paper says. But other factors matter too, the paper says:

The gay community tends to be more affluent, and the ability to give generously to candidates has translated into significant political clout, from the local level to the White House. Its leaders are well-versed in the machinations of government and the means of power, knowledge hard-won through years spent dragging politicians into the fight against the AIDS epidemic.

During this time period black folks have undergone a similar transition in terms of our thinking, but polls show that we do remain more opposed than other racial and ethnics groups.

Overcoming Sexing and Homophobia: Strategies that Work outlines 11 strategies for fighting homophobia within the black community. Browse the book in Google Books for more information about each of these strategies.

  1. Come out.
  2. Be confrontive.
  3. Be media savvy.
  4. Demand respect from African-American artists.
  5. Build and maintain nourishing institutions.
  6. Build alliances with LGBT groups.
  7. Speak the truth about our bisexuality.
  8. Learn to discuss the Bible with authority.
  9. Start meetings in local churches to address homophobia.
  10. Celebrate black gay heroes.
  11. Send this open letter to the African-American community.

Now that there is momentum, are these the strategies that we need to leverage it?

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


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