The expected backlash among blacks to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage has yet to materialize. And a new Washington Post-ABC survey suggests that black opinion is very quickly moving the other way, with a majority of African Americans now saying they support same-sex marriage.
Fifty-nine percent of blacks now say they support same-sex marriage, an 18-point jump since the president's announcement of his own support two weeks ago. Fifty-three percent of Americans now believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized, which also marks a substantial spike since 2006, when just 39 percent of those polled thought it should be legalized.
The Post offered a pretty important caveat: the result is "tentative" due to the small sample of black voters in the poll."
Last week, Public Policy Polling also released a poll showing an 11-point jump in support among black voters in North Carolina on the issue of gay marriage. The poll came just days after the Tar Heel state voted to approve a constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage. Two-thirds of black voters reportedly voted for the measure.
Black voters have been targeted by groups opposed to gay marriage, as blacks have expressed greater opposition to it in polls over recent years — so much so that the passage of anti-gay initiatives like California's Proposition 8 were (inaccurately) attributed to black voters. “There is not a chance in God’s green earth that African Americans support same-sex marriage,” Frank Schubert, the national political director of the National Organization for Marriage, which is opposed to gay marriage, told the Post. Schubert said that President Obama's endorsement has likely “created a lot of angst and conflict in that community, but his opinion of gay marriage is not going to be changing the opinion of African Americans in a significant way.”
Indeed, several prominent black clergy members have expressed disappointment with the president's position. "My feelings of disappointment arise not only from the fact that I don’t agree with the President, but also because his announcement came so suddenly, and without any warning to the Black church community," Jamal Bryant, the pastor of a Baltimore megachurch, told the Urban Daily after the president's announcement.
But in an interview with the Village Voice, ABC pollster Gary Langer pointed to a poll his agency conducted last week that showed 54 percent of black voters expressing a favorable view of the president's statement. (Interestingly, Langer said, white voters expressed stronger approval of gay marriage in a March poll, but had a less positive response to the president's position.)
"You see a net positive reaction from blacks, who are very supportive of the president, and a very slightly negative response from whites, [who] are less supportive of the president," Langer said.