Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Paradox or Two on Election Day

As promised, a reflection on Prop 8.

The San Francisco Chronicle
(and just about every other news outlet) reported today that the opposition to Prop 8 (read: the good guys who were trying to defeat a ban on gay marriage in the state of California) conceded defeat today, with the executive director of Equality California stating, "While we think the margin will close, we are convinced we will not be able to overcome the small deficit we are in and that Proposition 8 will pass." With 3 million votes uncounted, the "Yes" (yes = ban) votes are up 52.5%-47.5%. Voters in Arizona and Florida also voted to ban gay marriage in their respective states this November 4th. Arkansas voted to ban adoption by "single people and unmarried couples" (read: gay)... I will point out here that California voted overwhelmingly for Obama, and Florida also went blue, albeit by a much smaller margin. (Arizona, predictably, went red, but by a smaller margin than was expected a few weeks out, even being "too close to call" for quite awhile after the polls closed there. Arkansas was red as well.) So, what's going on California and Florida voters? What is it that makes you comfortable with, even inspired by, our new president-elect Barack Obama, supporting him 61%-37% in California, 51%-48% in Florida (a significant margin in the Sunshine State!), obviously comfortable with and ready for a more liberal White House and a more progressive direction for the country... but still willing to take away basic human rights from your neighbors who have done absolutely nothing... i repeat absolutely nothing... to hurt you? As Rachel (we're on a first-name basis) noted tonight, 9 of 10 measures relating to relaxing laws on marijuana possession passed. "So, smoking weed is getting more respect from our citizens while gay people are getting less respect. I'm not quite sure where that means we are on the tolerance meter," she said of the apparant contradictory (might we say paradoxical? Hmm?) results of ballot propositions in juxtaposition with the leftward swing of the country on the presidential election. Here's Rachel:

And here's what I am wondering. Remember 2004? Of course you do. Remember how gay marriage was one of the top issues that turned people out to vote? Remember how it brought out all the loony far-right wingers who didn't mind watching our economy collapse, our troops fight and die in unwinnable wars, and our public infrastructure literally crumble, but somehow couldn't stand the thought of two people in love uniting in matrimony and receiving the same inalienable rights that the rest of the country receives without question just because those two people might share the same internal (or external) plumbing? Well, those loonybin far-right conservatives (and, surprisingly, a large majority of the African American community... this may be revisited in another post) did come out to vote in 2004, and they elected George W. Bush to a 2nd undeserved term as the president of our great nation. So here's what I think: while the Mormons pushed millions (and millions) of dollars into supporting the ban on gay marriage in California, maybe our mostly good liberal representatives with a good amount of political capital today did not do as much as they could to encourage a defeat of the ban. They did not want a repeat of 2004 - if the Dems made it an issue, you can bet your bottom dollar the Republicans would push back hard and it could have hurt the rest of the Democratic ticket. This came to me today, and is completely unsupported by anything other than the whim of my fancy. So please, dear readers (I know I have some...) prove me wrong... Find me a Democratic candidate or elected official who campaigned against Prop 8. I know the ground game against it was good, I saw plenty of "NO ON PROP 8" gifts on Facebook among my California friends. But what high profile, popular progressives devoted time, and even more importantly, money, to defeating the ban? I can't say whether this strategy (if it truly was a strategy - again, this is just what I think might have been partly responsible for the confusing support of Prop 8) was ultimately good or bad. We did elect some outstanding individuals to the House, Senate, and of course, to the Presidency. Those people can presumably do more good in office than out of it. But we, as progressives devoted to holding our representatives accountable, should demand attention paid to this issue. California, Florida, I have faith in you!

This post became an essay, my apologies. I will have to save my look at Rahm Emanuel (who did, today, accept the post of White House Chief of Staff!) for another post.

As a goodnight gift, this video of Barney the White House Dog going rogue on a Reuters reporter today ;-)


FlyRyan said...

Wow.... The Reuters guy is a lame ass. Who goes the the doctor and takes antibiotics for a little bite on the finger?

Anonymous said...

Whereas I can't disprove your theory, I can say that I am shocked at the outcome partially because I heard and saw so many things against prop 8. On every radio station that I listen to there was a commercial very frequently aired, with a testimonial given by the superintendant of schools that nothing about marriage was taught in schools and that it was shameful for the opposition to use children to try and get their way. There was also a very touching commercial on for months trying to reach out to people to understand what it would feel like not to be able to marry the one that you love. Not to mention there being loads of No on 8 signs everywhere. I can't say for the rest of California if these things were invested in, but it certainly seems, at least in the LA area that sufficient funds went toward making people aware of how prop 8 denies people basic rights. Maybe that's different from having a politician stand up for the cause, but here is at least some info for you.