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The election of Barack Obama as the first African American
president on November 4, 2008, was the same day that
legalized marriage for gays and lesbians in the state of Cal-
ifornia, authorized by the State Supreme Court only six
months earlier, was taken away through popular referen-
dum. The combination of Obama’s historic win with the
passage of California’s Proposition 8 by a narrow 2.3 percent
margin initiated many rounds of recriminations—especially
so, given the oft-cited statistic that 7 in 10 African Ameri-
cans who came out to vote in the Presidential election also
favored the ballot initiative. Yet, African Americans con-
stituted only 10 percent of the California electorate who
voted. Given the narrow margin of victory for Proposition 8,
it would be a mistake to blame any one particular group for
its passage: African Americans; other minorities; main-
stream gay organizers who failed to provide effective out-
reach to communities of color; liberals who did not bother to
vote; staunch moral-majority Republicans; or even the Mor-
mon Church in Utah, which reputedly provided over 40 per-
cent of the funding for the initiative.
The key issue is not that there is plenty of blame to
spread around; there is. Rather, the important point is that
the promise of progressive coalitional politics failed—a fail-
ure exacerbated by repeated contentions that African Amer-
ican communities (as well as other communities of color) are
especially homophobic, coupled with the simultaneous in-
sistence that ‘‘Gay is the New Black,’’ as the December 16,
2008 cover of The Advocate proclaimed after the November
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