By Andrew Davis
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute has released a report that it says reveals the dishonesty of Republican Party leaders in their attempts to win over Black voters in terms of moral values.
The report, entitled 'False Promises: How the Right Deploys Homophobia to Win Support from African-Americans,' compares the voting records of top Republicans in Congress to the voting priorities of Blacks—and exposes that, to the surprise of few, they do not mesh. However, the document also reveals that lawmakers with anti-LGBT ratings also receive low ratings from organizations that promote minority rights, including the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
According to a press release from the task force ( NGLTF ) , the report shows the 'incongruity between historic Republican strategies' such as Ronald Reagan's 'welfare queens,' and the GOP's current push for Black voters to 'come home.' The study suggests that the rhetoric centered around moral values is designed, in part, to garner support by stirring up homophobia in the African-American community—a strategy some may espouse is eerily similar to the 2004 presidential election, in which the 'morality' around same-sex marriage became a hot-button topic ( although the election involved the general public ) .
However, data compiled from polls of the Black community by the conservative Black America's Political Action Committee and the progressive Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reveals that top priorities for Black voters include health care, the economy, education and Social Security—not moral values. Also, the Joint Center's poll showed that 47 percent of African Americans would actually support some form of legal recognition of same-sex relationships ( i.e., civil unions or marriage ) .
In addition, the report points to anti-LGBT statements by religious right figures, including Bishop Henry Jackson and the Reverend Lou Sheldon, as part of the attempt to bring Black voters into the Republican party—and shows how out of step they are with the major figures in the African-American community, including the late Coretta Scott King.
In an April 4 audio press conference announcing the release of the report, Matt Foreman, NGLTF's executive director, commented that 'unfortunately, the use of same-sex marriage as a wedge issue is not limited to the radical fringe of the religious right. [ However, ] no one should fall for it, either.'
Nicholas Ray, an NGLTF policy analyst and author of the study, went over the methods used in the study as well as the findings that were uncovered. 'We wanted to determine just how honest the Republicans' wooing of African Americans really is,' he said of the aim of the study. He related, among other things, how the project looked at the voting records of 159 conservative Congressional Republicans. The legislators scored 96.4 out of 100 on the American Conservative Union's Congressional Voting Index—but only scored 6.7 out of 100 on the Leadership of Civil Rights measure.
The Reverend Doctor Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of Refuge Ministries, called on Blacks to join together. 'There is a need for African Americans to gather our forces now in the face of the demonization of any part of our community, and that certainly includes same-gender-loving African Americans,' she said. 'This onslaught has seized upon our perceived inability and unwillingness to have a real discourse on our own diverse sexual reality. We are injuring our own people [ by aligning ] with folks whose agenda do not include us.' She also pledged 'to fight to stay in communion with my people. This is my community—not Karl Rove's community or George Bush's community, but my community.' In addition, she remarked that ministers such as Sheldon and Jackson 'have no record of concern for the civil rights of African Americans until our struggles could be used for their purposes. They are abusing the African-American civil rights struggle.'
The entire report can be downloaded at www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/FalsePromisesReport.pdf.