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It's been a while since my last post, so let's hop right to it.

PROP 8: There has been a bit of soul searching in the gay community since Nov. 4, when African Americans voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama and for Prop 8, which changed the California state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Many white gays and lesbians can't understand why blacks, victims of discrimination who know the sting of second-class citizenship, would vote against another group seeking basic rights. I won't get into the reasons for this. They have been hashed over and explored for weeks. But I do want to give my gay brothers and sisters some advice.


The link between the two civil rights movements is real, so enlist the active and public support of African-American icons who share your view and who can get blacks to give them a hearing on the issue. Three such powerful symbols exist: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Last month, I emailed Sharpton and asked, "Hey, Rev.....did any of the organizers of the movement against California's Proposition 8 ever reach out to you to help with outreach to the African-American community???" He replied, "No they should have." The gay community must not make that mistake again.

The Prop 8 heat on blacks diminished greatly when the money and manpower assist from the Mormon church was revealed. Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic interestingly proposed that the Mormon intervention on a social issue near and dear to evangelical Christians could end up helping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, if he makes a presidential run in 2012. But my former colleague Stephen Stromberg, who wrote about Mormon involvement in the battle over Prop 8, said it probably isn't working. "Mormon involvement underscores the concerns many Americans have about whether Romney would take direction from the Mormon church," he told me. This could make the fears about the Pope's influence over John F. Kennedy seem quaint.


REPLACING HILLARY: New York Gov. David Paterson (D) has a bunch of new-found friends now that he has the unenviable task of choosing someone to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton after she's confirmed as secretary of state. Combining my knowledge of Paterson with the thoughts of a couple of wise Empire Staters who know him well, here's what's likely playing into his political calculus. Paterson likes "firsts." There hasn't been a Latino(a) or a gay person in the seat. Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion's name is floating out there. Openly gay New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who deftly made the transition from outsider activist to inside power player, fits the bill.

More importantly, though, Paterson needs a "name." Someone who instantly commands respect in the state and on the Hill and who would have no problem raising money for future races. This may be why Paterson reportedly has gauged the interest of Caroline Kennedy. And she's reportedly interested. Another possible could be state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. It's not clear he would sublimate his ambition to succeed his father as governor in order to go to Washington. Pity Paterson can't be the pick. The shocking events of March that made him governor put the kibosh on that.

CABINET DIVERSITY: Only Democrats would give a Democratic president -- and a black one, to boot -- a hard time about diversity in the cabinet. Before Obama started assembling his team, African Americans were grumbling with concern about there being "enough" representation. Gays and lesbians are grumbling with that concern now. And frustration among Latinos bubbled into view on Wednesday, when Obama was asked to respond to their concern that making Bill Richardson the secretary of commerce was a "consolation prize" for the community, since the New Mexico governor really wanted the job Clinton got.

The president-elect had the right response: "I think people are going to say, this is one of the most diverse Cabinets and White House staffs of all time." He went on to say, "There is no contradiction between diversity and excellence." And added, "I'm looking, first and foremost, for the best people to serve the American people." Amen. Now could everyone please put away their score cards? Please?!

By Jonathan Capehart  | December 5, 2008; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Mr. Capeheart, I am weaning myself off of "Morning Joe" because the campaign is over. May I suggest you do the same? I found it frankly embarrassing to listen to you try to answer Joe Scarborough's bullying inquiry about the fitness of Eric Holder to serve as attorney general. It seems Scarborough can only live in bad old days of Republican rule. The show is now an upper class snark fest, despite the gravitas of some guests. You add nothing to your resume or reputation by joining in on the idiocy of Scarborough or Mika B.

Posted by: blessinggirl | December 6, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Try this again for me. Gov. Paterson needs a "name" -- a celebrity -- appointmen to fill the seat now occupied by Hillary Clinton. Why is that, exactly? And why would a movie actor or athlete not fill the bill as well as some Kennedy relative?

Posted by: jbritt3 | December 6, 2008 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Any comments on any blog or article that do not address Barack's failure to prove he is a natural-born citizen are irrelevant in the current political climate!

Posted by: Archarito | December 6, 2008 3:44 AM | Report abuse

Capehart, DITTO to blessingirld! Scarobrough has become the Sean Hannity of MSNBC. I saw that show and your treatment was horrible. Mika treatment when she does not agree with Joe is horrible. Mike barn? and Willie Geist with all of there relevant comments sit like scared puppies while Joe start his rants.
I frankly like Morning Joe show as I switch to MSNBC because of the Pinheads on Fox that appeared like a Bad Sinus headache when Obama began to move to the front of the line. Chris Wallace had to tell them one Saturday morning that 30 minutes of Obama Bashing is too much for fox even! Did Gretch and Dosey blow a gasket! I am surprised Wallace is still on air after that. Back to Joe he got ridiculous after Obama became a force to be reckoned with for Hillary! Suddenly the entire campaign was benched marked to his unsuccessful run for Congress in Florida. He somehow could not see that that was old Republican politics and Obamanation was a new style of Democratic swagger emering. I will not call it a prejudice of some sort because it is my hopes that the chosing of Obama is a paridigm shift away from racism by the mass in America!

Lastly in my rambling of thoughts, I have two more points to give you that I hope you will seriously ponder on.....1. Concering Bobby Jindal...If Obama is not a natural citizen because of one parent not being born in America, Bobby has two that were not born here. Oh and to expand Joe ScarB, Bobby only capitalized and looked good with Gustav because of the plans Blanc put in place after Katrina. Research Bobby first decision around March and you will see how smart silly he is. and 2. Just what are the Gays wanting rights as a couple that chose to be together or the redifining of MARRIAGE AS A UNION OF A MAN AND A WOMAN? A written agreement yes but a redefinition of Marriage good luck I personally could never go against the Bible definition and examples.

Posted by: turtlelovenurse | December 6, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Cuomo and Kennedy are two popular choices for Governor Patterson, while Maloney may also be a choice. Consolation prize for Richardson is dumb as more jobs for Latinos by commerce vs. state is a reality. Also exploitation/bias in jobs should be reduced be it gender, race, religion, language and ethnicity. No more hidden union ballots so the Wal-Marts can't fire organizers.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 6, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Again the morons attack the Mormons for speaking out on what they consider a moral issue. Right or wrong the majority of Californians including an estimated 75% of Black Women, the Catholic Church that induced the Mormons to join them and Muslim voters who abhor homosexuality as do Orthodox Jewry Is anyone attacking them? No because Mormons are a safe target for bigots.
That said Mormons do not vote in lock step and no one knows how many voted or how they voted. It is also clear that once the Supreme Court decides, and they probably will, that Prop. 8 is unconstitutionally void, then the Mormons will follow the law of the state they are in. They always do.

What's in a name. A marriage by any other name would be as beneficial, but the court has ruled and I believe that amending the Constitution to take rights away from specific groups is not a good idea. The Nazis took horrific actions in genocide against the Gays and Jews, Gypsies and "useless eaters." That should remind us. One other thing Nazis used thugs to beat up people in the street. The Californians Against Hate should not allow thugs to beat up old ladies carrying crosses or spit in the faces of those who disagree. They also should abide by our freedoms of expression.

Posted by: mharwick | December 6, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I think it will be Caroline. Uncle Ted has withdrawn from the leadership of the Judiciary Committee, and my guess is that he will retire after his term is over. Caroline Kennedy will be carrying the family torch in the Senate. When Jeb Bush runs for the Senate seat from Florida in 2010, then both of the political dynasties will be represented. Since both of them are accomplished in the public and private sectors, they would be welcome additions.

Posted by: bill_delgrosso | December 6, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I thought we voted according to our best beliefs about wrong and right, not according to who kissed the fanny's of certain groups claiming to represent people. Blacks voting against gays having the same rights sounds pretty hypocritical to me.
Are we assuming that the stats were right about that vote? I have my doubts.

Posted by: ThePoliticalStraycom | December 6, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

As to gay marriage and Proposition 8: the various churches, black or white, Mormon or Protestant or Catholic or holy roller, have the right to define the "Sacrament of Marriage" as they see fit, according to their beliefs. What they do NOT have the right to do is determine the legal rights and obligations of their fellow citizens according to their own beliefs.

I am straight, white, and 66 years old. I have been married to my wife, who was raised as a Catholic, for 37 years. According to the Catholic Church, we have never been married, since I was divorced when we were married. That's fine; I've got over it.

But we are still legally married.

Get the point?

Posted by: thrh | December 7, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

For those who don't "get the point" of my previous post, let me spell it out. "Marriage" has two meanings: the religious and the secular. Marriage as a sacrament is imposed by the church [the religious meaning]. Marriage as a social contract is imposed by the state [the secular meaning]. To define the religious meaning of marriage, as a holy union, upon the secular meaning [a social contract] is a violation of the Constitution. On the other hand, a Constitutional provision, or a legal provision, can trump a religious provision. Otherwise, the Mormons could still legally practice polygamy, which is, or was, permitted and encouraged by their religion. Gay "marriage" is a right of social contract. Religious recognition of gay marriage is a separate question.

According to the Catholic Church, I am living in sin with my wife of 37 years, and my children are bastards. According to the state, I am married and my children are my legal heirs. Anybody got a problem with any of that?

Posted by: thrh | December 7, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

The problem with the Mormons, by the way, was the extent to which they intertwined their religious beliefs with support of a political proposition. It threatens their tax-exempt status. The Catholic Church tends to be more Machiavellian about their political activism.

Posted by: thrh | December 7, 2008 12:27 AM | Report abuse

There is a simple solution to the issue of marriage. Let's divorce the religious and the civil issue. At present, clergy who officiate at weddings do so as an agent of the STATE. We fill out the state marriage license testifying that these two people are married.

Let's go to a two pronged "wedding" if you will. Let's have a civil form that is filled out at the local administrative office testifying that the two people who present are "joined together" (call it what you want). This form would be the basis of all legal standing, such as spousal rights for insurance, hospital visitation, income tax, adoption, etc.

Then let those who want a religious ceremony go to the religious officer (clergy, whatever) of their choice, and have their ceremony. This way we separate church and state properly, which many of us who are clergy would like, and then no one's religious beliefs have to be compromised. If a group does not believe in gay "marriage", then let them refuse to officiate at such recognition. Others that are willing may do so. But everyone is equal before the law.

Posted by: CalSailor | December 8, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Bravo,Mr. Capehart, on all 3 comments.

Posted by: bettina3 | December 8, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree Morning Joe has become the Sean Hannity of MSM I have already scratched it off my must see programs. Did anyone watch the show when Joe compared an analysis of Barack to OJ Simpson. None of the othr panelists responded (bit) He is a racist and a disgrace. I wonder why MSM keeps him on but I guess I do the ratings

Posted by: jackyk | December 8, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Your article on Blacks voting for Prop 8 is not quite on point. As a civil rights activist and neutral on ones sexuality and as a African American woman, this is my analysis. The majority of African Americans do not equate same sex marriage rights even remotely equal to the struggles of our people from slavery to the present. In addition, most African Americans believe homosexuality is wrong and it is rooted in our religious culture. On the other hand, most of us believe all persons should live their lives as they see fit as long as they dont break the law. That being said, we may have empathy for the cause but you will never get the masses of African Americans to public condone same sex marriage

Posted by: jackyk | December 8, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I've yet to read or hear an argument that defines philosophically exactly what constitutes the "right" that gays have to marry. That gays have equality with straights is demonstrably false--a heterosexual relationship and a gay relationship are simply different, right down to biological "equipment." The two kinds of relationships are as different as the speed of light and the speed of sound.

So what is it? It may sound trite, but inquiring minds want to know.

Arguments that are "sui generis," by the way, just won't do. So far it's all I hear--"we have a right to marry because we say we do and a lot of people agree with us." Come all can do better than that, right?

Posted by: Bluefish2012 | December 8, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Bluefish: Check the 14th Amendment: equal protection under the law means that the law can't define inferior classes of citizens. Either marriage is a right for all citizens, or it can't be legally recognized for anyone. This is the intent of the 14th Amendment, and nobody really disputes its stated meaning. This is why we get into the sophistry about the "definition of marriage."

Since you can't exclude gay people from the right to marry as such, you take refuge in the argument that there is not, and can never be, any such thing as same-gender marriage, by (your) definition.

All things considered, the institution of marriage could use bolstering by the inclusion of any and all couples who are willing to take those sctrict vows, and keep them. The majority of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, you know.

The whole existence of this dispute is based on a word game, and Prop 8 is just such a game. Even Prop 8 purports, not to directly restrict access to marriage by any citizen, but to do so indirectly, through the cynical and malevolent narrowing of the term "marriage" to exclude same-gender couples.

Prop 8 is about circumventing the US Constitution -- nothing more.

Posted by: lonquest | December 8, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

If African Americans cannot understand that civil rights are civil rights regardless of the minority group, then we have a sad, anti-intellectual situation on our hands. Loving v. Virginia was only 40 years ago. Why was it necessary for blacks to marry the person of their choice and yet today many blacks refuse to allow gay people to marry??? And Loving v. Virginia was a court decision not the "will of the people." As to the reasons for this, I have not seen them "hashed out" in any newspaper or publication of note. I have also not heard any black leader condemn the actions of these black voters. In my experience, gays and lesbians have always been supportive of black issues. Perhaps this solidarity should cease, even among black gays and lesbian (at least 4 million strong.) It would have been nice if California gay activist had demonstrated in front of black "christian" churches as well. Certainly, the mormons are just evil while the black voters are an incredible disappointment. The bs about homophobia being inherent in black culture is a lame excuse for bigotry. Homophobia has been inherent in every single culture and religion throughout the world. Bigotry through ignorance is no excuse. Wake up Black America!!!

Posted by: bob2davis | December 8, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

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