Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Perspective.

To say that this has been an emotional time would really be quite an understatement.

I don't know if it's because I'm still smarting from the anti-feminist vitriol I felt subjected to personally as a Hillary supporter, earlier this year; I don't know if it's because I will never forget the profound sense of defeat I felt four years ago, when Bush won reelection and I knew, at the very least, we'd be another four years at war, in debt, as bullies on the international front; I don't know if it's because I could not understand anything about the Palin selection, and recoiled in horror when hearing some of her more adamant, hate-filled admirers shrieking about terrorists; but after so many years of feeling like I was living on some other planet -- even though my thoughts were (I swear) rational, and legally sound, and research-based, and supported by the framework of our Constitution -- it is hard to believe that this is true.

I don't know that this brings with it profound and lasting change from a "now Virginia votes Democrat" point of view. But for now, for today, for this election? Holy cow.

Virginia voted for a black man for president. And maybe North Carolina (?). AND INDIANA. I was with El_Gallo last night, and he is from Indiana, and has often cited the fact that his home town was the site of the largest KKK rally in American history. There is a young member of his family (an in-law, to be fair) who admitted to being "afraid of black people."

INDIANA voted for Barack Obama.

I am hoping that if I say it (write it) enough times, I will start to realize that this has really happened. It's historic and important and kind of shocking and amazing.

Mostly, it says to me that this country really wants to move forward, and really wants to believe in our American mythology. And I'm totally down with that.

But I'm not stupid. I don't think Obama is going to wave his magic wand and make everything perfect, just like that, *poof*. I am a little trepidacious about announcing what I hope real change will look like, because I'm not sure it's possible, or how long it might take.

But I do think this country's overwhelming optimistic enthusiasm is important, and it's something we haven't had in a long time. Optimism itself is both healing and an agent of change -- it's momentum to propel us forward. I hope it does. I think it will.

I woke up this morning feeling more hopeful than I have in a long, long time. It was a very good feeling.

And then I cried.

It is looking like Prop 8 will pass here in California. This will mean writing a ban against same sex marriage into our state constitution. I am surprised, perhaps naively. I also don't understand how this is possibly legal.

I heard a major supporter of Prop 8 actually say on the news this morning, "This isn't about discrimination. This does not take away any rights from gays. The gays have the exact same rights that straight people do." Which is an outright lie. It gives straight people one big right (and loooooots of smaller but important ones) that gay people do not have. This means making a law for one kind of person and not for another.

Which I find completely and 100% legally, Constitutionally, indefensible.

I got into an online argument with several folks on Monday. They suggested, and I'm kindly paraphrasing, that if we broaden the definition of marriage so that we don't discrminate against the gays, we open up a can of worms. Because what's to stop the liberals from wanting to broaden the definition of marriage to include incest, children, polygamy, and animals?

Leaving me to shake my head and say, Well, uh, lots of things?

(Common sense being one of them.)

The point is that we are trying to define marriage on a national level. And, as with all other laws we pass, it is our duty as American citizens to do so in a way that does not give the right to one kind of citizen and not another.

You know how all US citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote?

Do you think that when African Americans wanted the right to vote that the opponents said, "Oh sure, and what's next? We'll let golden retrievers vote, too?" YOU BET THEY DID. Same with the crazy women who thought they should get the same right that men had. "And if women can vote, next thing you know, we'll be letting 10-year-olds in the polling booths!" Right.

Except no.

There is no reason that a national definition of marriage cannot be between one consenting adult citizen and one other consenting adult citizen. No reason, that is, except for arbitrary notions of morality and religion which are debatable from a theological viewpoint and irrelevant from a legislative one.

It wasn't that long ago that black residents of this country were considered 3/5 of a person and the notion that they should have the right to vote seemed ludicrous by "modern moral standards."

Yesterday, America voted Barack Hussein Obama to be the next president of the United States.

For now, perhaps we've lost the same-sex marriage equality battle, but we will win the war.

Yes we can.


*************UPDATE with twitchy eyes ***************

Gay rights activists are already taking this to court. This comes as no surprise, of course. But what makes me get ranty and break out in hives is this kind of sentiment (from this LA Times article):
"Now, if they want to legalize gay marriage, what they should do is bring an initiative themselves and ask the people to approve it. But they don't. They go behind the people's back to the courts and try and force an agenda on the rest of society."

Initiatives like these propositions asking the voters directly to amend a state constitution makes no sense to me in a republic.

Regardless, just because people vote for something doesn't automatically make it legal. Nor does it make it constitutional. (Which is why we still have those legislative and judicial branch thingamajigs.)

Going to the courts isn't "going behind the people's back." It's actually kind of the opposite. Going directly to the people, fueling them with lies, and using votes from a (slim) majority to try and take away rights from a minority, actually goes "behind the back" of the American political process. By which I mean subverts its process and fundamentals.

30 comments:

  1. Amen sister!

    And congrats on the engagement! (I'm way behind as you can tell)

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  2. Thank you for this- Last night it felt like we'd come so, so far and now, hearing the news that Prop 8 might pass, it makes my heart ache.

    It'll take time but I have to believe that we'll get there someday- equality for all. Looks like we'll just have to fight a little harder for it.

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  3. You know... When I first came out as a lesbian, I thought that, maybe, one day, my children would be able to marry whoever they wanted, regardless of gender. I did not, in my wildest dreams, imagine that I would one day be able to marry whoever I wanted, regardless of gender.

    On June 17th, I legally married the woman who has made me happy and been my harbor for six years. (We had our "official" wedding ceremony four years ago.)

    Our children, the children that I gave birth to and she has helped raise for six years, are better off now that we are legally married. They are safer in so many ways.

    I am unwilling to go back. I am unwilling to give up my marriage. I cannot and will not live as a second class citizen.

    "What God has created, let no man cast assunder."

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  4. What a beautiful and thoughtful writing. It is my hope that one day equality will overcome prejudice (again!!!). We'll just keep working...

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  5. I admit to being very afraid of Palin supporters.

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  6. A true democracy does not allow the will of the majority to determine the rights of the minority.
    The US seems to have lost it's democratic way with all of these 'propositions'. We don't have them here in Canada. We do RARELY have referendums, which is no better, but I can only remember two of those in my lifetime.

    On the other hand, watching Obama last night, I can truly say, never have I felt so uplifted, so inspired and so excited for the future of this tiny globe.

    Along with so many other members of this small world, I'd like to thank the Americans for doing the right thing. THANK YOU.

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  7. It passed. It's awful. But I have some perspective. My parents were born during a time when interracial marriage was illegal. When I was a kid, I didn't even know gay people existed. I found out in high school when my friends started coming out. There were whispers and cruel remarks, then. Fear of AIDS played a big part in that. The gay kids confided to their closest friends and asked us to keep their secrets. For their safety. They moved to Hollywood after graduation.

    Today, I work with teens. Lots. Small town, Southern Californian, mostly minorities. There are openly gay couples & individuals. Yes, there are still cruel remarks, but the secrecy is gone. "Don't ask, don't tell" isn't part of their society. I have faith in the kids-- in their generation. I am teaching my daughter that I would love her, support her, attend her wedding and be grandma to her children-- whoever she is: gay or straight. Yes, I am sure that things will change. The kids are alright.

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  8. I am having the same happy/sad reaction. We took a huge step forward for civl rights for one group and a huge step backward for another. The work toward equality is never finished.

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  9. Arizona passed it's proposition to amend the state constituion to "one man & one woman" yesterday as well.

    I feel a little sick today as a result. How can we have move so far forward only to have not moved at all?

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  10. I do hope you're right about winning the war, if not the gay-marriage battle. Your post serves as a reminder that there is still A LOT of work to do to make sure all citizens are treated equally. Obama's election is a step forward, but Prop 8 is two steps back...

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  11. There must be a lot of people feeling very alienated right now. Just in case gay people didn't feel ostracized before, now they know that essentially 1 in 2 people they meet want to prevent them from getting married.

    It's heart breaking, but they are 2 things that give me hope for the future. First, the vote is SO close. There's only a few hundred thousand votes in it. So we're almost there. Second, the black civil rights movements started long before gay rights came into the public consciousness. So with these kinds of results, hopefully it won't take as long for this issue. INDIANA voted for a black president. Very soon, gay marriage will be legal. Changes are a-foot...

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  12. Separate but equal? How is that possible? That this proposition was even allowed on the ballot is disgraceful. Stupefying that more Californians voted to protect animal rights than human rights.

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  13. I heard the same Prop 8 supporter on the radio this morning and I almost choked on my breakfast. Who is this guy kidding? In the midst of all the excitement last night over Barack's win, it was sobering to flip the channel and see that Prop 8 was passing. It certainly quieted down the party I was at.

    And I agree with Heather, I thought we did away with separate but equal a long time ago...

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  14. Yay us! We put a black man in the white house! After being amped up in Chicago for much of the night, I awoke hopeful and feeling a little lighter. And then I read about Prop 8. The scariest thing about the article you quoted? The divisive, incontrovertible use of the "they." "Now, if they want to legalize gay marriage, what they should do is..." Ugh; here comes that tummyache. I hope tonight's rally represents real progress, and I hope you will report back to us if you go.

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  15. Amen!

    And I can't help but wonder if we aren't indeed on the sort of slippery slope that you hinted at already... We legalize gay marriage and then take it away. What's stopping people from deciding that interracial marriages should be invalidated next year? And so on and so on until we're all part of some homogenistic society with blonde haired, blue-eyed, male/female couples with 2.5 children and a labrador retriever.

    Many that's a little sensational but... you get my point.

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  16. "Maybe that's a little sensational..." - jeez can't this thing have a grammar check?

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  17. What's the we? I don't understand the fascination with gay unions from the heterosexual left-leaners. I'm all for live-and-let-live, but don't we have bigger fish to fry?

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  18. I pray this is overturned in the courts. I have to believe it will. Because if it isn't, I'm not sure I can have faith in this system.

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  19. Amendment 2 passed in Florida, defining marriage as between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. I'm disgusted.

    Like you've said Kristy, based upon the framework of the constitution, this is in no way legal.

    I have actually had one woman quote from the Bible to denounce gay marriage, at which point I quoted back parts prohibiting divorce. (she's divorced).

    I fail to see how discriminating against those who live an alternative lifestyle is any different from the witch hunts of old. Minus the torches and ropes swaying from tree limbs.

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  20. Well written! I'm very surprised Prop 8 passed in CA. Echoing all others: That totally sucks.

    Also, VA elected Doug Wilder as governor in the past, so it's not a total shock VA elected Barack Obama solely because he is black. It's more significant that VA went Democrat. Now, if only we could get rid of the stupid electoral college! Let the PEOPLE speak, not the electoral votes.

    - Mon

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  21. I'm surprised that Prop 8 passed too, and I don't live in CA and don't have a horse in the race. But don't lay this at the feet of organized religion. The people of California have spoken -- the same ones that ALWAYS vote Democrat (except Obama). If it was voted down, everyone would be singing the praises of a democratic process. When it doesn't turn out the way you want it, all of a sudden, it's moral and religious people, and a bad system. That's entitlement at it's finest. The first lesson people should learn, and we're failing our grade schoolers, is that life is not fair.

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  22. I must honestly say, I'm shocked!! I really thought that people were much more forward-thinking in California. Yet Prop 8 just seems to stem from some backwoods-hick agenda. I hope that things work out for the best. Gay marriage is not the end of the world, or of society as we know it. (I live in one of the first Canadian provinces to allow gay marriage.) And nothing has changed here... except for the fact that ALL people are treated equally under the law, and many many gay couples are now living happily in "true" marriages.

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  23. Yes we can.

    Also, I'd like to cast my vote for more twitchy-eyed updates.

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  24. Are there backwood hicks in Cali? It comes down to money, not morality, clearly, or Prop 8 would have been shot down. And why is recognition of "true" gay marriage forward-thinking and everything else is backwoods or Bible thumping? Truly forward-thinking people try to understand the rationale behind people who don't see eye-to-eye with them. This name calling and scapegoating only propagates the polarity in this country. Think you're better or smarter than that? Act like it.

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  25. I too was shocked when I saw that Prop 8 was passing. I kind of thought it was a no brainer. I am not in CA, so I did not get to put in my two cents. Here is something a friend of mine sent me that she got from a group she belongs to (I believe on Facebook), pretty much sums up the sheer idiocy of the Prop 8 arguments.

    Top 17 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong:

    17. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

    16. Gay culture is a new fad created by the liberal media to undermine long-standing traditions. We know this is true because gay sex did not exist in ancient Greece and Rome.

    15. There are plenty of straight families looking to adopt, and every unwanted child already has a loving family. This is why foster care does not exist.

    14. Conservatives know best how to create strong families. That is why it is not true that Texas and Mississippi have the highest teen birthrates, and Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire have the lowest. This is a myth spread by the liberal media.

    13. Marriage is a religious institution, defined by churches. This is why atheists do not marry. Christians also never get a divorce.

    12. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why our society has no single parents.

    11. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

    10. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

    9. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

    8. Gay marriage should be decided by the people and their elected representatives, not the courts. The framers checked the courts, which represent mainstream public opinion, with legislatures created to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Interference by courts in this matter is inappropriate, just as it has been every time the courts have tried to hold back legislatures pushing for civil rights.

    7. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

    6. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because "separate but equal" institutions are a good way to satisfy the demands of uppity minority groups.

    5. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

    4. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

    3. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

    2. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

    1. METEORS and VOLCANOES.

    oh yeah... and "the gays" killed the dinosaurs.

    Inial

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  26. I, too, was saddened by the three states that banned gay marriage.

    But they are all on the wrong side of history. The trend is clear-- gay rights are becoming the norm. Progress is never a straight line but a series of jumps and setbacks. I know this small setback is very difficult to take, especially for gays who have already married in California.

    But the main demographic that objects to gay marriage will die off soon. Their children will be more tolerant. It's only a matter of time.

    History is on our side, and it will judge these people the same way we judge segregationists today.

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  27. i'm excited to hear that out of state people are as excited as i was about virginia going for obama! it was a very exciting day for us.

    i've been trying to ignore the prop 8 situation. i really want to feel the joy and hope from the presidential election. if i think about prop 8, i just become wholly disgusted with this country and the people that actually feel there is any defense to this. it seems so utterly obvious to me. i don't understand how anyone can think that denying a whole group of people rights is okay. and of course, it's most disappointing coming from california.

    but speaking of virginia and prop 8, it was only 41 years ago that the supreme court struck down virginia's law banning interracial marriage. 41 years is too long, but it's something. love will win out over hate.

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  28. I've been reading a lot of comments in various parts of the blogosphere about the passing of Prop 8. I've read arguments for and against and I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion--that's one of the nifty things about this country, we don't have to agree. Prop 8 is BAD LAW regardless of anyone's personal beliefs about homosexuality. (And yes, it IS about denying rights to a minority group.) Yes, I find it distressing and disturbing that people support this. You know what I find equally distressing and disturbing? Reading and hearing people IN THIS STATE who in the midst of their fury that it passed admit that they DID NOT VOTE. I am disgusted that Prop 8 passed. I am disgusted that anyone could think writing a definition of marriage into the constitution is a good idea. I am DISGUSTED that the estimated voter participation in this election is 64% and that it breaks the previous record set in 1968. Assume for a moment that 64% of eligible voters in California actually voted. Based on a 52% win for Prop 8, this would mean that slightly more than 33% of eligible voters PASSED THIS PROPOSITION. 33%. This is certainly not "clearly" the will of "the people"--only the ones who BOTHERED to vote. I take democracy seriously and see voting as a responsibility. I don't blindly vote the party line. When I am outvoted and my candidate does not prevail I can accept it--it's part of the process. When the candidate I support wins, I don't act morally superior or belittle supporters of the other candidate. Different people have different opinions about how to do things and the beauty of our system--of the people, by the people, for the people--is that we the people make our individual voices heard by casting a ballot. I support this process wholeheartedly. (Of course, when propostions with questionable legality are on the ballot and even win we MUST pursue other legal recourse for review--we the people can't just vote in illegal bullshit and have it stand just because it got enough votes to pass. We are constantly having to review our laws and fine-tune the democratic process.) Crap. I think I see voter registration activism in my future. I don't think I can in good conscience accept a 33% vote as sufficient majority for AMENDING the CONSTITUTION (state OR federal) for ANYTHING.

    I hope that one of the effects of electing Obama is that he inspires people to PARTICIPATE.

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