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Don't Thank (Or Blame) Black Legislators For Killing Gay Marriage

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Black clergymen, in support of a ban on gay marriage, react to the Illinois Legislature not calling a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage to a vote Friday after it reportedly lacked support needed to pass.

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After the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was not called for a vote in the state House of Representatives, the African-American Clergy Coalition gave the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus all the credit for killing it.

"Today our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has won!" Bishop Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church wrote in a statement. "Pastor James Meeks, Bishop Lance Davis and I are so proud of the God fearing Black Caucus members who withstood the pressure of the LGBT forces and allowed God's word concerning marriage to remain between one man and one woman in Illinois."

That’s wrong. Also wrong are gay marriage advocates who blamed the defeat on black legislators knuckling under to pressure from conservative clergymen in their districts. Because if you look at who was in favor of the bill, and who was opposed, African-Americans would have cast a higher percentage of “yes” votes than whites. Eleven of the 20 black House members were prepared to vote yes, four were committed to vote no, and five were undecided. Here’s the breakdown:
Ken Dunkin, Chicago
Esther Golar, Chicago
Chris Welch, Hillside
La Shawn Ford, Chicago
Christian Mitchell, Chicago
Rita Mayfield, Waukegan
Al Riley, Olympia Field
Camille Lilly, Chicago
Arthur Turner, Chicago
Marcus Evans, Chicago
Elgie Sims, Jr., Chicago
Monique Davis, Chicago
Mary Flowers, Chicago
Eddie Jackson, East St. Louis
Charles Jefferson, Rockford
Thaddeus Jones, Calumet City
Jehan Gordon-Booth, Peoria
Will Davis, East Hazel Crest
Derrick Smith, Chicago
Andre Thapedi, Chicago
There are 92 white House members. All but two of the 47 Republicans (all of whom are white), oppose the bill. That’s 45 no votes. In addition, the Windy City Times identified 19 white Democrats who are either committed to vote no on the bill, or have not publicly supported it: Brandon Phelps, John Bradley, Jerry Costello II, Jay Hoffman, Daniel Beiser, Sue Scherer, Stephanie Kifowit, Anthony DeLuca, Katherine Cloonen, Patrick Verschoore, Jack Franks, Michelle Mussman, John D’Amico, Natalie Manley, Emily McAsey, Kathleen Willis, Fred Crespo, Keith Farnham, and Kelly Burke.
That means only 28 of the 92 white House members were solid “yes” votes. That’s a 30 percent support level, barely more than half of the 55 percent the bill would have received from the black caucus. (None of the six Latino members are considered opponents of gay marriage.)
Instead of thanking his fellow African-Americans for stopping gay marriage, Bishop Trotter should have thanked the white community. That’s where the strongest opposition lies.

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