For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be a Californian.
This was quite a week. I was traveling on business, so on the evening of Tuesday, November 4, I watched the election returns alone in my hotel room. When, just after 8:00 p.m., NBC News declared Senator Barack Obama the President-Elect, I called home to make sure that my boys were watching. Earlier in the day, #1Son had voted in a Presidential election for the first time, proudly posing for photos before leaving the house. BigBob was very excited to accompany him to the polling place and I was disappointed that I could not join them, but proud when I saw the photo of #1Son holding up his sample ballot with the bubble next to Obama’s name filled in.
As Tuesday night wore on, it became increasingly clear that Proposition 8 was likely going to pass. Thus, the elation I felt watching President-Elect Obama’s victory speech was tempered by the despair and revulsion I was also experiencing as the reality concerning Proposition 8 became inescapable.
By a margin of 52 to 48 percent, my fellow citizens actually voted to inject discrimination into the California constitution. I am embarrassed for our state, and disgusted and appalled that any right-thinking person could truly believe that such a result is desirable or acceptable in 2008.
“This is a deep, visceral divide between two cultures.”
In response to the Presidential election results, much has already been written about the changes that have taken place in America in the last 50 years. But we still have so far to go.
Sadly, true equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons has not been achieved and California took a giant step backward this past week when Proposition 8 passed. Fortunately, I remain confident that the setback will only be temporary. Several lawsuits challenging the discriminatory impact of Proposition 8 were filed the day after the election and it must eventually be deemed unconstitutional.
America was founded in response to religious persecution, designed to be a refuge from the imposition of religion or religious-based beliefs by one group of people upon other persons. Sadly, religion and government became inextricably intertwined in California during the recent election, with religious zealots using their political power to deny equal rights under the law to all persons.
What those persons who used their religious beliefs to justify their support of Proposition 8 failed to recognize or acknowledge is that marriage is, from the perspective of government, a legally binding civil contract, not a statement of religious philosophy. But the religious beliefs of some Californians have now been inserted into our state constitution. And that is just plain wrong.
In defense of those who supported Proposition 8, some commentators have speculated that they did not understand that a “yes” vote was a vote to amend the constitution and diminish the freedoms guaranteed to all Californians. Rather, they were merely voting in accordance with their belief that marriage should be only between a man and a woman. If that’s the case, you can blame the sleazy advertising campaign employed by Proposition 8 organizers that included inflammatory, incendiary tactics such as half-truths, outright lies, intimidation, and threats to stir up the electorate and gain support.
Protests are taking place across the state, about which many Proposition 8 supporters seem surprised. “Well, they say, we’re glad that’s over. Now we can move on and get back to everyday life. Hope there are no hard feelings.” That simply isn’t going to happen. As C.W. Nevius, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, observed today: “This is a deep, visceral divide between two cultures. And, with more protests scheduled this weekend in San Francisco and in the state, it seems the anger and resentment will only increase.”
In increasing numbers, Proposition 8 supporters are portraying themselves as victims, describing themselves as “shocked” by the reaction from its opponents. Really? If you voted to take away someone else’s basic, fundamental, and constitutional right to do something that you have had the right to do — and taken that right for granted — all of your life, how can you claim to be surprised by or a victim of that individual’s righteous anger? It boggles the mind, frankly. One supporter of Proposition 8 claimed she was horrified when she was called a “homophobe.” What did she expect when she openly declared her support for a measure that, in the minds of its opponents, constitutes nothing short of hate and a rejection of an entire group of people because they share one immutable characteristic?
The proponents of Proposition 8 ridiculously named their website “Protect Marriage.” Allowing all persons to marry poses no threat to “traditional” or “heterosexual” marriage. Same-sex marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with heterosexual marriages or families. The arguments in favor of discriminating against same-sex marriage actually fail under their own weight. After all, if it is best to raise children within the context of a state-sanctioned, civilly binding contract of marriage, shouldn’t it stand to reason that children of same-sex unions would be better off if those unions are also sanctified and legalized by the state, thereby placing them on a par with their heterosexual counterparts?
Most offensive to me is the argument that same-sex couples should not complain because they have long had the right, under California law, to become registered domestic partners. (See California Family Code sections 297-297.5.) Therefore, Proposition 8 supporters assert, there is no need to make marriage legally available to same-sex partners as they already enjoy “comparable” rights. That’s akin to the “separate but equal” approach to education for children with different skin colors that was invalidated by the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
The election of Barack Obama as our next President was a watershed moment that I consider myself privileged to have participated in bringing about and witnessed. I anxiously look forward to his inauguration and implementation of the platform upon which he ran.
But for those of us embroiled in the fight for civil rights, there can be no peace until all different kinds of families can lawfully co-exist in California. That day will come when Proposition 8 is again overturned by the courts as unconstitutional and the right to marry declared equally available to all persons, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.
Included in the November 17, 2008 Best of Me Symphony at Dodgeblogium.
Presenting the finest of the writer’s blogs by the bloggers who write them: Top 5 Picks as chosen by the November 14, 2008 WOOF Contest contestants.
- Daisy Bookworm – Fire and Water: A poem looking at the contradiction of human emotion. Specifically a fiery temper and an icy heart.
- ~willow~ – NaNo: Jackie’s Lament: Her NaNoWriMo main character does a bit of introspection.
- Dragon Blogger – The Savage Woman: A Poem about a wild savage woman and trying to tame her heart.
- H Benjamin Petrie – Father pt.1: A father deals with bringing up his two daughters alone after the death of his wife.
Non-Fiction / Opinion:
- JHS, Esq. – BlogBlast for Peace 2008: No Peace Without True Equality: There can be no peace in the world until all persons are assured equality under the law, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. Sadly, the fight against discrimination must continue here in California in the wake of the November 4, 2008, election.
Other November 14, 2008 Contestants:
- Alex McGaughan – Chapter 16: Really . . . Shut Up, Squishy: Chapter 16 of Children of the First, a serial webnovel. There’s magic, a little drama, and a whole lot of snark.
- ~willow~ – !noitanillop-ssorc: A discussion of three very different books.
- Dragon Blogger – The Dragon and the Knight: A poem about misjudging based on hearsay.
- Dragon Blogger – Waiting For Your Return: A Twitter poem constructed from random words about missing someone when they are away.
- Dragon Blogger – Will You Be There If I Fall? A poem about questioning if your partner will be there for you.
- Margaret Norkett – In My Life: A poem about lifting oneself out of depression and self-pity.
- Dragon Blogger – My Lady Is A Sports Car: A passionate poem comparing a girl to a sports car.
- Dragon Blogger – Loathing The World: A poem from a Twitter contest; crafted to include 7 random words.
- Dragon Blogger – What Have I Done? A poem about making a choice that you bitterly regret.
- Dragon Blogger – Afraid: A poem about being afraid of life.
- Jennifer M Scott – Dancing Dust in Starlight: Toothless piloting across the wasteland, clutching the fresh photographs only to come.
- Jennifer M Scott – Morality Sphere: The moonless monastery sits cowering in eclipsed shadows.
- Jennifer M Scott – Nursery Rhymes for Children: New nursery rhymes.
Want to participate in the next WOOF? Submit a link to your best writing post of the week using the form at the bottom of this page.