Picking a date, strategy for CA marriage

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Equality California, which ran the campaign to kill Proposition 8 (that’s our side, folks) last year and lost, is considering when they’ll push for marriage equality once more. They have two choices on when to put it on the California ballot: 2010 or 2012. They have chosen 2012.

The reasoning is that 2010 will be an election for governor and thus get a smaller turnout, while 2012 will be a presidential election, and President Obama will be up for reelection.

At first glance, 2012 seems the best choice since it allows more time for organizing. And that would be true if California Equality has learned one small lesson: Do not take the African-American community for granted, as it did last year.

The point is simple politics and religion, and unfortunately an oversight of our political groups. Since most of the LGBT political organizations meet with black elected officials who are supportive of our community, they assume that means the black community, which itself understands the struggle for equal rights, would be supportive. Wrong.

The African-American base is organized around its churches, which are mostly conservative Baptist. But since they fully understand discrimination up to this date, we have a common understanding and can begin a dialogue. As soon as they realize same-sex marriage does not infringe on their religious rights in any way — and right now, they don’t — we have an opportunity to have a strong force join with us. The same cannot be said about the Mormons or Catholics, but in 2012 Barack Obama will be up for reelection and the black community will be out in force. It is up to us to go to the mountain and reach out our hand.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].