Monday, November 17, 2008

topical, weighty political thoughts that have been chewing up my stomach


I don't live in California. I don't have any foster children. I don't have a husband. If my history of picking boyfriends is any indication, I will never have a husband, because my boyfriend will be a jerk. Despite all of that, I've been walking around since the election with this kind of hollow, punched in the stomach feeling. I know I should be celebrating because the Democrats won, and everything will be all right now. I know everyone says this is a victory for civil rights and equality and oh my God, all our prejudices have been triumphed over and fallen away, but the truth is that Tuesday the 4th really blew for gay people. It's hard to feel happy when you feel marginalized and betrayed.

I left out shock, but there was a lot of that, too. Out of all states in the union, you would think gay rights wouldn't have a problem in California. California, the land of fruits and nuts, the home of the gay mafia and the liberal Hollywood elite, the state where gay people have been getting married for months without the world coming to an end or the institution of marriage collapsing entirely. Sure, they have that Republican governor, but California is a blue state. How could they have trouble in a blue state?

It's the blue state part that really stings. As a gay person, I've always thought the Democrats were my friends. They're about inclusion, and tolerance, and liberalism. They want to help people, and lift people up, and watch out for the little guy. Yeah, the Democrats gave us "don't ask, don't tell", but it was so easy to blame that sad compromise on the Republicans, because everyone knows they're evil and corrupt and wrong. Democrats stand for change we can believe in, and hope, and all that happy holding hands rainbow coalition brotherhood kumbaya, but based on the election results, Democrats also stand for exclusion. Democrats stand for stripping people of their legally granted rights. Democrats stand for inequality. 52% of California decided that the thousand legal rights granted freely to anyone with a marriage license should only be available to people who insert Tab A into Slot B, and at least part of that 52% of California is solidly Democratic.

Maybe I should just register as an Independent and be done with it.

I know it's the word "marriage" that throws a lot of people, but that's not a term a lot of people asked for. "Marriage" is the term the United States applied to the union that lets you file joint tax returns, and be the designated next of kin, and receive spousal pension benefits. I want nothing to do with the marriages that go on in church. Church and me, we don't always get along, and it's best that I avoid them. The marriages that go on at the courthouse, on the other hand, should be open to all people who pay taxes, and vote, and want to join themselves to another person. "Separate but equal" should be abolished, not enshrined in the constitution of California or any other state. The majority of the country should never be allowed to decide what rights the minority is eligible to enjoy. If anyone tried to strip marriage rights from Asians or right-handed people or anyone over the age of thirty five the public outcry would be defeaning, but this election has taught us that homophobia is the last acceptable social prejudice.

A black man can be President, but he can't bring a First Husband with him, and those two things were decided on the same ballot. Is it a triumph, or a failure?

On Saturday a group called Join the Impact scheduled over 300 nationwide protests, rallies, and demonstrations. There was at least one in every state, and they were all scheduled to start at exactly the same time, 1:30 PM EST. I wasn't expecting a lot from ours, since we live in the red end of a pretty red state, but I went anyway. I don't live in California and I don't have a husband, but I have a voice, and I would like for it to be heard.

local high schoolers

protestors and sunsphere

protestors (1)

I don't know if we accomplished anything on Saturday. I don't know if it changed anyone's mind or made anyone rethink their vote or even gave anyone a moment's pause, but I feel better knowing that I did something, and took some kind of action to combat my sinking feeling of disbelief that the most democratic country in the world, a republic of the people, for the people, and by the people considers me a second-class person.


Nan said...

Hey Joel. Have you see this? .
Keith Olbermann is great. I too am deeply disappointed by the CA decision.

Nan said...

oops- The link I meant to embed didn't go... must have screwed up the HTML. Copy and paste this into your browser:

JMBower said...

Just saw this post. That proposition blew my mind, and I don't even have a dog in that fight. I can only imagine how much of a mixed reaction you must have had to that day...hope on one side, demoralizing disbelief on the other. I'm curious what demographics supported the Prop.

Here's hoping the courts do their job and rule it unconstitutional. I'm sure there will be the usual cries from the right of "OMG activist judges" which really translates to "OMG a judge made a decision based on the law, rather than upholding my prejudices".

If judicial activism=judges doing their job in holding laws up to constitutional scrutiny, then it's time more judges got a little activism going.