Who Voted for Prop. 8?

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Freedom to Marry, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Let California Ring, and Marriage for All have released a new report  that examines the polls on Prop. 8 to tease out the demographics of those who voted “yes” and to explore the role of the African American vote in its passage.

The study concludes that party affiliation, ideology, religiosity, and age were the biggest predictors of a “yes” vote for Prop. 8. In terms of “yes” votes, the divide between conservatives and liberals was 82-22; the divide between Republicans and Democrats was 81-30; the divide between those who attended religious services weekly and those who hardly ever attend religious services was 70-30, and the divide between those 65 and older and those 18-29 years old was 67-45. Though there was a divide between the African American and Latino votes, on the one hand, and white votes, on the other, that divide was of a far lesser magnitude (58-59/49). Moreover, multivariate analyses did not show that race was a significant factor once religiosity had been controlled for; in other words, the higher percentage of “yes” votes among African Americans and Latinos is not explained by their race, the study asserts, but by the fact that the respondents in these racial and ethnic groups tended to be more religious than whites. Looked at from the perspective of religiosity, the number of African Americans and Latinos voting “yes” was right in line with other groups in the category of those who attend religious services weekly.

This report, which is short and definitely warrants a read, raises interesting questions about unbundling intersectionalities (here, the intersection between race/ethnicity and religion). As Evan Wolfson pointed out during the morning plenary session of yesterday’s day-long program at AALS on sexual orientation and gender identity across the curriculum, the report also highlights how quickly and with what little information the majority/mainstream press will jump on and disseminate a story that pits one traditionally disadvantaged group against another.

-Tony Infanti  

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