Last week, an anti-gay marriage measure passed statewide, garnering a majority of votes in every Florida county but Monroe. The ballot was one of the great paradoxes in American politics: The black community, the most oppressed group in U.S. history, comprised one of the unfriendliest demographics toward gays.
S.F. Mahee worked as the Broward organizer for Florida Red and Blue, which backed the measure. She is also a black lesbian who has urged the African-American community to take a stake in gay issues.
"Speculation is that the momentous turnout that Senator Obama provided may have actually hurt us in the end," she says. "If you can make the connection about discrimination, then African-Americans are overwhelmingly with us. But if someone else focuses on homosexuality, then we lose African-Americans."
When she got up the morning after the election, her first impulse was to flee the state. Then she learned Arizona and California, one of the nation's more progressive states, had passed virtually the same initiative the same day.
"I am in absolute and complete awe," she says. "I am in awe that we can elect the first African-American president and that on the same day, we can write discrimination into the state constitution. Our education is at the bottom of the heap. We have a state House that just had to apologize for its participation in slavery last session. We have a gay adoption ban. I am afraid Florida has become in this millennium what Mississippi was to the civil rights movement."