Assuming a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court isn’t successful, the District of Columbia will become the sixth “state” to allow same-sex marriage on Wednesday.
One of the most talked-about angles is that D.C. is the first place in the country with same-sex marriage where the population is not overwhelmingly white. In fact, D.C.’s population is 55.6 percent African American and 36.3 percent white. 8.3 percent of DC is Latino and over 10 percent of the population is foreign born, predominately from Africa and Central America.
The AP story about the role of African Americans in DC’s battle for same-sex marriage received some blowback because of AP’s use of its own polling data in California, where it suggested 70 percent of African Americans in California supported the ban on same-sex marriage.
Many activists said the AP (and CNN) exit polling was flawed and pointed to an analysis done by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force which said the percentage of African Americans supporting Prop 8 was closer to 58 percent.
But the NGLTF study isn’t exactly rock-solid either, as Jim Burroway and Timothy Kincaid at BoxTurtleBulletin have pointed out, raising questions about NGLTF’s analysis and suggesting that NGLTF was spinning their data.
So where does that leave reporters? There is no doubt the exit-polling number is out there and is going to be repeated, even if the numbers are disputed. Given questions about the reliability of the NGLTF spin, it may difficult to use those numbers as a low-ball number.
It seems warranted to approach either number with certainty, say there has been some dispute, or even find another angle. The polling in DC by the Washington Post may be a better measure. While Whites and African Americans had very different views on same-sex marriage, the poll found 51 percent of African Americans opposed same-sex marriage (compared to 12 percent of Whites) and 70 percent of African Americans wanted a vote on the issues, as opposed to 39 percent of Whites.