African-American newspaper hosts forum on Proposition 8

Fallout continues from the passage of Proposition 8, the measure on this month's ballot that banned same-gender marriage. During the weekend, the Los Angeles Sentinel - the region's leading black newspaper - convened a town hall on the issue. Blacks' overwhelming support of Prop 8 has generated angry protests from the opposing side. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.

Frank Stoltze: For her part, Latrice Johnson of United Lesbians of African Heritage detected an ugly tone in the protests that blame blacks for the passage of Prop 8.

Latrice Johnson: The gay community do not want to air this dirty laundry. But it is very much racism – whether it's blatant or subtle.

Stoltze: During a morning of discussions, panelists who supported and opposed Prop 8 offered different opinions on whether blacks harbor more homophobia than anyone else.

Nevin Powell said it's important for gay and lesbian African-Americans to come out of the closet. He recalled confronting a group of men at a Starbucks whom he overheard cheering Proposition 8.

Nevin Powell: I said I voted no and the brothers looked at me, "But brother, why?" I said because I'm a gay man and I'd like to marry the man that I'm in love with, my partner, and you should have seen the faces. (chuckles)

Stoltze: But, Powell conceded, that interaction occurred after voters approved Prop 8.

Powell: I assumed that the white folks who had the Proposition 8 no campaign – they had the money, they had the TV ads – and I left it entirely up to them.

Stoltze: Powell, an activist in the gay community, said he realizes now that his assumption was a mistake.