" In other words, being gay was an "illness" but the gay person wasn't necessarily to be "blamed" because the origins of homosexuality were unknown at the time, Nugent continues.
By claiming that gay people had illnesses, that gave some organized religions the opportunity to "…supply limited spiritual remedies" as a kind of "cure" for the condition (Nugent, 12). Whereas in much earlier days "ecclesiastical exorcisms" had been carried out to "cure" gay people, in the early part of the 20th Century, it was presumed that "psychological remedies" would be able to provide that elusive cure for homosexuality (Nugent, 12).
Author Fred Van Geest writes in the journal Sociology of Religion that according to a Pew Research survey, 60% of "mainline Protestants are supportive of gay rights" and just 21% are opposed to gay rights (Van Geest, 2008, p. 338). However only 26% of mainline Protestants support same sex marriage; 27% do favor "civil unions" and 47% favor "traditional definition of marriage" (Van Geest, 339). As to evangelical Protestants (a very conservative Christian group), 75% support traditional marriage (man and woman) and 40% say they support "gay rights" (Van Geest).
Regarding African-American Protestants, Van Geest states that 72% in the Pew Research survey "support a traditional definition of marriage," which helps explain why five of seven black Protestant denominations that Van Geest researched "have taken a stand against legalizing gay marriage" (339).
African-Americans and Same Sex Marriage
An article in Social Science Quarterly (Sherkat, et al., 2010, p. 80) reports that when the California Proposition 8 was on the ballot in 2008 -- Proposition 8 would deny the right of same sex couples to marry -- a significant percentage of African-American voters voted in favor. In fact the California General Election Exit Poll indicated that "70% of African-Americans" did in fact vote against same sex marriage by casting ballots for Proposition 8 (Sherkat, 80). The authors of this peer-reviewed article generalize that because "the majority of African-Americans" are members of Baptist denominations, and the Church of God in Christ, and have the "highest rates of religious participation of any subgroup" in the U.S., their influence in matters of gay rights and same sex marriage is significant (81). And in comparison to white conservative denominations, the role that African-American denominations play is "quite different," Sherkat continues (81).
Sherkat mentions that "prominent secular African-Americans" in entertainment and sports have been "noted to express disapproval of homosexuality and hostility toward gays and lesbians" -- albeit the author doesn't mention any names of those "prominent" African-Americans. For this reason, Sherkat believes the opposition to same sex marriage by blacks is more "secular" than it is religious.
Moving on in their research article, the authors assert that 63% of African-Americans are members of "sectarian Protestant denomination" (including Baptist denominations), and that is compared with just 30% of Caucasians (Sherkat, 83). The authors mention that African-Americans are "…significantly more likely to view homosexuality as wrong" due to their conservative denominational affiliations. That said, Sherkat adds that when it comes to gay rights per se (not same sex marriage), "African-Americans are more supportive than are whites" (83).
Because very few African-Americans are members of the Roman Catholic faith (Sherkat claims that "fewer than 10%" are Catholics), Catholicism works differently for Caucasians than it does for African-Americans. That is, if more African-Americans were Catholics they might well embrace the institutional bias against gays per se, beyond the black reticence to accept same sex marriage. Sherkat seeks reasons why African-Americans would tend to be against same sex marriage; one reason is the fact that African-Americans generally have "lower rates of educational attainment" and education is "among the most powerful predictors of support for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) rights (84). African-Americans also are: a) more likely to live in the South, more conservative socially than the north or west; and b) African-Americans are "more likely to have children living in the household," which could stir "conservative orientations" with reference to sexual matters (Sherkat, 84).
Sherkat's conclusion flatly asserts that African-Americans are "more opposed to same-sex marriage than whites or persons of other ethnicities"; moreover, Sherkat explains that religious factors play a large part in the reason African-Americans oppose same sex marriage. Income, gender, political viewpoints or educational achievements do not play a "significant role in structuring American America's views" on the issue (Sherkat, 94). However, because of the African-American culture's link with conservative Christianity, homosexuality and in particular same sex marriage are not acceptable.
Politics and Anti-Gay / Anti-Lesbian Bias
It is well-known that former president George W. Bush courted and received substantial electoral support from the conservative Christian movement. Sean Cahill writes in the Journal for African-American Studies that the "antigay policies of the Christian right pose a disproportionate threat to Black and Latino same sex couple families" (Cahill, 2008, p. 219). In fact because Latino same sex couples are more likely to be "non-U.S. citizens" they are "disproportionately affected by the Immigration and Naturalization Service's failure to recognize same-sex couples" (Cahill, 219).
Moreover, Cahill's point is that conservative Christians have led campaigns -- by such organizations like the Traditional Values Coalition, led by Reverend Louis Sheldon -- that scare voters into believing that passing "sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws" takes away rights of straight citizens (223). Indeed those laws "grant homosexuals more right than other citizens," Cahill explains. The Bush-Cheney administration "…also promoted the false view that legal protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual people threaten the civil rights of people of color," which is a classic case of divide and conquer (Cahill, 226). In fact the White House sent out a memo ("Protecting the Civil Rights and Religious Liberty of Faith-based Organizations…") that portrayed "…antigay and religion-based discrimination in hiring for positions paid for with public funds as religious liberty" (Cahill, 226).
In other words, the White House was telling conservative Christian groups it was okay to discriminate on the bases of sexual orientation. The White House under Bush was telling conservative Christians that gay rights laws were a "hindrance to serving the needs of African-American and Latino urban poor," making it official from the executive branch of the federal government that gays and lesbians were less than worthy American citizens.
Asians / Chinese and Same Sex Marriage
The literature on Chinese-Americans (and other Asians) vis-a-vis their cultural view on same sex marriage is not uniform at all. There are a variety of viewpoints with the Asian communities. In a book called Asian-American Politics, the authors point out that within the Asian-American communities, Korean-Americans are considered among the most conservative. Those whose church attendance is on a regular basis may hear Korean pastors "preach conservative social values, such as opposition to gay marriage," a position that matches up with Republican policies (Aoki, et al., 2009, p. 72).
In the Encyclopedia of Asian-American Issues the authors report that in 2004, several Korean-American churches in Southern California, and "7,000 Chinese-American Christians marched against same-sex marriages in San Francisco" (Chen, 2010, p. 937). The reason many Chinese-Americans oppose same-sex marriage, Chen continues, is that "…maintaining marriage as a heterosexual practice may maintain their culture and normative values" (937). That having been said, Chen (938) reports that "…there is a large and powerful contingent dedicated to ensuring the right to marry freely for all." This push for "full-fledged marriage equality" is grounded in "social justice grassroots effort for human rights."
As proof that not all Asians are opposed to same sex marriage, Chen reports that in 2007, more than sixty Asian-American organizations signed a legal brief with the California Supreme Court supporting "same sex marriage" (938). In fact, a slight majority of Asian-Americans (51% to 49%) opposed Proposition 8 -- previously mentioned in this paper as being designed to prevent legal same sex marriage -- according to Chen (939).
An article in The Advocate presents a seemingly logical reason why Andy Wong's mother is against gay marriage. Wong, who is Chinese, said he grew up in a conservative neighborhood in San Diego and his mother at first was accepting about his homosexuality. However, in the article (Caldwell, 2005, p. 28) his mother changed her mind about accepting him as a gay son because "…she desperately wants me to have children and has mentioned more than a few times that she wished I would turn temporarily straight so that I could conceive a grandchild for her" (Caldwell, 28).
The Advocate article also points out that same sex Chinese couples in San Francisco are taking steps to educate their community about tolerance and gender diversity. In fact, in August of 2005, Wong helped organize the first "marriage equality float for the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade" (Caldwell, 30). "Over 3 million Chinese-Americans saw this float" Wong explained. It was what he called a "unique opportunity to present a powerful message…