No on 8 Reaches Out to Crucial Minority Voters

Minority voters could make or break California's proposed marriage ban on Election Day. As efforts to overturn the state supreme court's May ruling come to a head, the campaign to keep marriage equality is at its peak for a third of the electorate.

BY Michelle Garcia

October 29 2008 11:00 PM ET

 PROP. 8 x100 AFRICAN AMERICAN (PHOTOS.COM) | Advocate.com

Blacks show the
most support for Proposition 8, with 58% of likely voters
reporting that they favor the amendment, versus 38% who
say they will vote against it. African-American
proposition opponents held a press conference on
October 21, with clergy and public figures speaking
out against the same-sex marriage ban.

"People tend to
look at the black community the way they look at any
community -- they make a sort of sweeping brushstroke of who
we are and what we are," actor Doug Spearman told
The Advocate at the event. Spearman said he
is not convinced that high voter turnout among
African-Americans will have a large impact on
Proposition 8.

Efforts to win
African-American votes have popped up on television, the
Internet, and the radio. Blogs that feature ads and cater to
largely black audiences -- like The Young, Black &
Fabulous and Rod 2.0 -- have seen growth in ads for
and against Proposition 8. The African American
Ministers Leadership Council, a project of the People for
the American Way Foundation, bought airtime for three
radio commercials, each urging voters to oppose
Proposition 8.

"A lot of us are
struggling to make ends meet," an announcer says in
one spot. "Soaring gas prices, foreclosures, outsourcing of
our jobs. Politicians make bad decisions that we all
pay for. But some people are trying to tell us the
real threat to our families comes from gay couples
trying to get married. Who are they kidding? Not me. It's
wrong to support discrimination of any kind."

While Hispanics
and blacks tend to support more liberal candidates and
issues, the racial groups have heavy concentrations of
Roman Catholics and Christians, respectively. Many
clerics are using Proposition 8 as a means to bolster
their opposition to gay rights, but some have been
vocal opponents of the ban. The Reverend Vanessa Mackenzie
of the Church of the Advent in Los Angeles said she has been
discussing the ballot measure with congregants who
insist they're not homophobic but don't believe gays
and lesbians should have marriage rights.

"In my own
congregation I have been having conversations about the
high rate of divorce and the high rate of cohabitation --
because if we talk about threats to marriage, [those
are threats too]," she said.

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