One would think that minority groups who have faced serious oppression would be allies in the fight for glbt civil rights.
Unfortunately, it has been the perception that blacks are more opposed to gay marriage than the overall population, by a significant margin. This has been supported by various polling (for example, 70% vs. 49% in California, in exit polling done for the 2008 election).
It does not help that 2 of the hotbeds for global homophobia happen to be Africa and the Caribbean.
It's not as if we didn't have powerful friends from the African-American civil rights movement. Coretta Scott King was a very vocal supporter of gay rights.
However, as we have seen in New York, with Democrats like Shirley Huntley, sometimes those that are most eager to repress the rights of the glbt community are people of color. As somebody who has visited many of the online forums, I personally have seen many passionate arguments from African-Americans that dripped rage that gays even perceive this as a civil rights struggle...as if our pain could not possibly compare to their experience.
Much of the hatred directed at gays comes from the black churches, who do not see the perversity of justifying bigotry with the Bible, when that was what was used to justify keeping blacks enslaved, and second-class citizens.
So, why is D.C., where the majority of the populace is black, about to embrace gay marriage, when states like New York and New Jersey, have been unable to counter homophobia?
I didn't bring up Maine, because if D.C. left it to a popular vote, it would probably go down to defeat.
However, legislators in the 2 states I mentioned couldn't get it done, but the local officals in D.C did.
There is a great AP story on this, which suggests it was all about the approach taken and the way the message was targeted. The essence is that it is very important to take the initiative and pro-actively court the African-American community to help us in our fight.
Rather than summarize it, I suggest reading it in its entirety (it is not a lengthy article).
You can access it here.