05/21/2012 02:12 pm ET

What Role Did Race Play In Amendment One Passing In North Carolina?

In the week since North Carolina voters adopted a constitutional amendment banning recognition of any "domestic legal union" other than heterosexual marriage, a consensus has formed among journalists about African-American complicity. According to this narrative, black voters let their Protestant traditionalism trump any sense of fairness toward lesbians and gay men—and became the critical voting bloc that gave Amendment 1 its landslide victory. Although the language has been cool this time around, it nonetheless has echoes of the widespread vilification of black voters after California passed the similar Proposition 8 in 2008.

"Citing deeply held religious objections to homosexuality, African-Americans, many of whom are evangelical Christians, have consistently voted for state bans on gay marriage, most recently in North Carolina," reported NPR. The Charlotte Observer declared that "many conservatives and African-Americans set political differences aside to vote along spiritual lines." An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist reported overwhelming support for the measure among black voters and speculated that "perhaps they think being sold into bondage simply because of skin color commands a greater grievance than not being able to get married on account of the body type to which you are naturally attracted." The Wilmington Journal, a black newspaper on the North Carolina coast, reported that, for African-American voters, "religious convictions won out."