by Yvette Carnell
When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage, I wrote the following:
I give Obama hell when he’s wrong, but today, he did the right thing. I would’ve been disappointed had he stuck to his “still evolving” position. That position was crafted to win the middle without alienating either side. Today, however, President Obama came out in favor of same sex marriage on the heels of North Carolina passing an anti-marriage equality amendment. That’s courage. That is, dare I say it, change.
People who run as transformational leaders should govern as such. Today, at least, Obama did that. Give him credit for that.
I stand by that. What I don’t ascribe to, however, is the notion that because there are people who are both black and gay, double minorities, Obama’s announcement is a win for black people. I figured this went without saying until I began to see comments like this one, “Gay people are not Black people. Did I read that right?”, begin percolating among avid Obama supporters.
The thing is, there are always overlaps. Some black people also earn over $250,000, but you don’t hear the argument, “hey, there are some upper class Negroes too!”, when the President, and others, malign the Bush tax cuts. Does the existence of Oprah and Diddy mean that we should support of tax cuts for the rich? Sure that argument is trumpeted among black conservatives, but among progressives, that never gets touted as a talking point, and nor should it, mainly because it doesn’t make much sense.
Once you start intermixing demographics, it’s easy to make the case that Obama, or any President for that matter, is benefiting all people when he benefits any people, based on the sheer fact that no demographic is monolithic or totally insulated. So I don’t accept the idea that black people benefit from Obama’s same sex announcement because there are gay black people. That’s a sort or tangential argument that I find troubling.
There are Irish-American gay people too. Is this a win for the Irish-American community? ‘Course not. When we discuss policy, we’re discussing it in the main, not on the margins. The black agenda should be comprised mostly of policy initiatives which will impact the greatest number of African Americans. Same sex marriage isn’t on the black agenda. It’s on the gay agenda. And in so far as the black agenda and Obama is concerned, black people remain, for the most part, empty handed.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Yourblackworld.