LA Times Reports on Black Clergy for Prop 8, Dismisses Them As Intolerant

In an October 22 article, Los Angeles Times staffer Jessica Garrison found "Black clergy both for and against gay marriage speak[ing] out" on the matter of California Proposition 8. The ballot initiative would enshrine in the Golden State's constitution the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

By the close of her article, Garrison found space not only to suggest that black Christians voting for Prop 8 were intolerant of homosexuals, but to hint that their views on homosexuality do a disservice to African-Americans by engendering a stereotype that they are more "homophobic" than Americans at-large (emphasis mine):

African American voters could play a crucial role in the fight over same-sex marriage. Though they make up only about 6% of the electorate in California, they are expected to vote in record numbers this election because of Barack Obama's presence on the ballot.

The Yes on 8 campaign is counting on them, arguing that some polls suggest African Americans are generally less open to same-sex unions than other groups.

"They are our strongest supporters," said Frank Schubert, who is managing the Yes on 8 campaign.

But opponents of the proposition say they think that black voters may be more tolerant than many political professionals predict.

"People have this impression that black people in general are more homophobic than the population as a whole," said Ron Buckmire, who heads the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, a black gay rights group in Los Angeles.

By conflating the matter of the defense of traditional marriage with homophobia, Garrison tacitly took a side in the dispute, co-opting the rhetoric of gay marriage supporters who would argue same-sex marriage is an issue of "tolerance." What's more, Garrison unnecessarily gave voice to an offensive and unsubstantiated stereotype in service of that bias.

In closing her article, Garrison cited a black churchgoer who quoted the biblical injunction to "judge not, less [sic] ye be judged." It's unfortunate she didn't heed that advice in her reporting.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters