Opponents of same-sex marriage have known this all along. But the rest of us noticed something curious in the aftermath of California's Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that took away marriage rights from our southern neighbor just months after its state supreme court bestowed them.
Minority voters tended to support the marriage ban more than white voters did—making them an attractive target in the equal rights battles to come. That truth was stark four years later, when several states were at the polls trying to legalize marriage equality. Internal documents from the National Organization for Marriage, exposed as part of a campaign finance investigation in Maine, say it explicitly.
"The strategic goal…is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots…"
That's all a long way of saying—six years after Proposition 8 and a decade after the painful fight over Oregon's Measure 36—that this kind of wedge politicking may not work as well in our state's campaign for marriage equality this year. If it comes to that. Several prominent racial justice groups, calling themselves Communities of Color United for Marriage, are endorsing what could be a ballot fight in our state to let loving couples marry no matter who they are.
The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO);
Causa, Oregon’s immigrant rights organization;
The Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus (DPO-BC);
Educate Ya, Inc;
Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK);
Lane County, Oregon League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC);
Mano a Mano Family Center;
The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Portland;
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Eugene, Springfield & Lane County;
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Portland Black Chapter;
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN);
The Portland Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
The Urban League of Portland;
Western States Center
“People of color have been advocating for LGBT equality for as long as anyone, and we are standing together today to display and honor the work that has been done to get us to this historic moment,” Khalil Edwards, a racial justice organizer for Basic Rights Oregon and coordinator for the Portland Black Chapter of PFLAG, said in a statement sent out by Basic Rights Oregon this morning.