Religious African Americans React to Obama's DOMA Shift

Will the president's new gay-marriage position decrease his support from black churchgoers?

Posted:
 
gaymarriage

The Washington Post reports that President Obama's recent shift on the Defense of Marriage Act (he's instructed the Justice Department not to defend it) doesn't seem to have had a huge impact on his support from the socially conservative African-American religious community:

When same-sex marriage was upended in California by popular vote in 2008, gay rights activists pointed to one factor: religious African Americans who came out in record numbers for President Obama but who also largely voted against the marriage proposal, according to exit polls.

More than two years later, religious African Americans are giving a more nuanced response to an announcement last week by the Obama administration that the government will no longer defend a federal law banning the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Some say the decision is dismaying, although not damning. Others may be rethinking their views, given the influence Obama has in the African American community. And there are those who don't seem to care much at all.

"I don't think that this is a deal breaker in terms of whether we are going to support the president . . . but it doesn't help," said Cheryl Sanders, pastor of a small church in Washington, who described herself as fairly conservative theologically.

She is among the 68 percent of churchgoing African Americans who oppose same-sex marriage and among the 90 percent who support Obama.

The Root's David Kauffman argues that the pragmatism of the African-American community on gay marriage means opportunity for white LGBT activists. Meanwhile, Delano Squires reported earlier this week that black church leaders in the D.C. area have offered an apology to the LGBT community for how they've been treated, in an effort to reverse the notion that "the most dangerous place for a gay and lesbian person is the black church."  

Read more at the Washington Post.

Read David Kaufman's analysis here.

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.