Quantcast

«

»

Nov 05 2008

Proud — and Bitterly Disappointed

Wow. Okay. This is an unfamiliar feeling.

Today I am, for the first time in many years, proud to be an American.

Some of it is about race. I’ll freely acknowledge that. I am an unrepentant liberal, and I’m old-school enough to feel ashamed and guilty about my country’s ugly history on race… and proud when my country gets over a little bit more of its racism. And yesterday, my country got over a lot of its racism. Yesterday, my country elected an African- American man to be President of the United States. And I am so proud about that I could burst.

But it’s more than that.

I am proud that my country, for once, did not get deceived by the politics of hate: the politics of fear-mongering, red-baiting, name-calling, character assassination, and trivial- but- juicy issue- of- the- day distraction. I am proud that my country was able to say, “We don’t care that Obama sat on a charity board with a former member of the Weather Underground. We don’t care that his minister said some harsh things about America. We don’t care that his middle name is Hussein. We don’t believe that he’s a socialist, a terrorist, a Muslim, a diva… and even if we do believe that, we don’t care. We think he’s the most able leader to get us through a difficult time — and that is all that we care about.”

This was an ugly, hateful, deceitful campaign on the part of the GOP, a campaign that showed an insultingly dismissive attitude towards the principles of democracy, and a deep contempt for the voters it was trying to court. And my country did not succumb to it. Yesterday, my country acted, not like an easily- manipulated robot army led by focus groups and media advisors, but like citizens.

I am also, I will confess, experiencing more than a skosh of hometown pride. I’m from Chicago… and I grew up in the neighborhood where Obama lives. My family still lives there, in fact. The apartment where I grew up, the apartments where my father and my brother live, are just a short walk from the Obama home. So I am having a totally irrational, but surprisingly powerful, surge of pride that a Hyde Parker — a Hyde Parker! — is going to be our next President of the United States. (Ask me about Hyde Park sometime, and I’ll explain to you why that’s funny.)

And most of all: I am insanely, gut-bustingly proud about yesterday’s massive voter turnout.

Even if the vote hadn’t gone the way it did, I’d still be proud about the massive voter turnout.

For decades, I have been deeply ashamed about the low voter turnout in American elections. America is the cradle of modern democracy, for fuck’s sake. Americans love to talk about democracy and freedom and patriotism and the Founding Fathers. And yet, for decades, way too many Americans have shown themselves perfectly willing to piss on this crucial, hard-won right. For decades, way too many Americans have succumbed to the self- fulfilling prophecies that “my vote won’t matter” and “all politicians are the same.” And for decades, I’ve wanted to grab every one of these Americans by the shoulders, give them a good, hard shake, and say, “Of course your vote won’t matter if you don’t use it! Of course all politicians will be the same if the only people who vote are the people who are invested in the status quo! Haven’t you read ‘Stone Soup’? What part of ‘there won’t be good government unless I bring my share of it’ don’t you understand?”

Democracy and voting are among the few things that I get seriously earnest and misty-eyed over. They’re among the few things that I consider, in whatever secular meaning you want to apply to the word, sacred. And it’s made me intensely angry, year after year, that so many Americans treat this right — the right that our country was founded on, the right that so many people fought and died for, the right that millions of people around the world still don’t have — with such contempt.

But not this year. This year, people got it. This year, Americans figured out that our government is, you know, ours.

And I’m deeply, deeply proud about that. I’m feeling all gooey, and misty-eyed, and — dare I say it? — hopeful.

Look. I know that Obama isn’t perfect. There are a fair number of issues that I disagree with him on. I’m concerned about how eager he is to be liked by everyone. I know we’re going to have to hold his feet to the fire, probably more than once. And I fear that a lot of young voters are going to lose some of their excitement and passion about politics when they realize that their hero is not, in fact, the second coming of Christ.

But so what. Obama isn’t perfect… but he is way, way better than just the lesser of two evils. He is smart, thoughtful, articulate, well- informed, and both passionate and level-headed. In this campaign, he has shown a remarkable ability to keep his eye on the ball; to not get distracted by the stupid, trivial, non-issue controversies of the minute; to stay on message, on target, on the high road.

And he more or less agrees with me on most of the issues I care about most deeply.

I think I’m going to be reasonably happy to have him as our President.

And I’m intensely proud that my country got over itself enough to make that happen.

*

Right. Yeah. Okay.

Except.

As proud as I am of my country today, I am deeply ashamed of, and hurt by, and furious at, and bitterly disappointed by, my state.

My country did not buy the politics of hate and lies, divisiveness and bigotry. But my state bought it hook, line, and sinker. Over half of my fellow Californians proved themselves to be either bigots, or gullible, easily deceived sheep. Or — and this is the one I’m going with for a lot of them — far too willing to be gullible and deceived. Far too willing to let themselves be persuaded by any excuse, no matter how shabby and transparently false, for voting their bigotry instead of their better nature.

And so my state has told me that I am now — officially, legally — a second-class citizen.

My state wrote discrimination into its Constitution.

(The official line of the No on 8 organizers is that they’re not conceding until all the votes — absentee ballots, provisional ballots, everything — are counted. But right now, it’s not looking hopeful.)

I want so badly to be happy about the Obama victory. I am happy about the Obama victory. I wrote the first part of this piece earlier in the day yesterday, and I meant every word of it. I still mean every word of it.

But right now, I can’t stop crying.

There’s an atheist rant in here somewhere. Something about organized religion’s easy eagerness to force its Bronze-age bigotry onto the rest of the world. Something about religious zealots who care more about their invisible friend in the sky than about the human beings standing next to them. The Yes on 8 campaign was overwhelmingly funded and organized by the Mormon and Catholic Churches. California exit polls showed that those who attended church regularly voted against marriage equality 83-17%; those who attended church only occasionally voted for marriage equality 60-40%; and those who do not attend church at all voted for marriage equality 86-14%. And that pisses me off no end. I can feel an atheist rant coming on that will make Atheists and Anger look diplomatic.

But right now, I don’t have the stomach for it. Maybe PZ or somebody else will take it on. Maybe I’ll take it on myself later. Right now, I’m just tired and sick and sad.

I know that the arc of history is bending in our direction. Eight years ago, a similar proposition — the one that got overturned by the California Supreme Court earlier this year — won by 61% of the vote. This one won with only 52%. In another eight years, we can probably win. (And this initiative may wind up in front of the California Supreme Court, which will hopefully smack it across the head and snap, “What part of ‘Unconstitutional’ don’t you understand?”)

But right now, we’re not there. Right now, I don’t even know if Ingrid and I are still legally married. Right now, I — and the dearest love of my life, and a large number of our friends and colleagues and family members — have had a civil and constitutional right taken away from us by popular demand. This is a huge, grotesque, mutant fly in the ointment of yesterday’s inspiring and historic election, and I can’t pretend that it’s anything else.

*

Finally, though, I want to say this:

I am incredibly proud of all my blog readers who volunteered for, and donated to, and blogged about, and just plain voted in, this election. Especially the ones who volunteered for/ donated to/ blogged about/ just plain voted for No on 8. This one was really personal, for obvious reasons, and Ingrid and I are both deeply touched by all the people who said such sweet and supportive righteously angry things about the issue. And I was especially touched by all the people who said they’d been inspired to donate by my blog. No, we didn’t win… but we made it really, really close. Thank you for that.

And so now I make this promise to you:

No more political blogging for a while.

I’m exhausted. And I’m sure you all must be exhausted as well. I think I’m going to take a day or two off from the blogging. And then, unless something huge happens in the political arena, I’m going to take a break from the politics for a bit. After my day or two off, I’m going to come back to the blog with my usual mix of atheist rants, sexual philosophies, TV reviews, commentaries about science, observations about life, recipes, and, if we can get our camera to work again, cute pictures of our cats.

I’m deeply grateful to all of you for putting up with the unexpected turn this blog has taken for the past month. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

59 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    lunalelle

    As far as I know, you and Ingrid are still married unless each individual marriage is contested in court.
    But you were one of the couples I was thinking about when I burst into tears. I’m still withholding any blog post until all votes are in, but I’m not really emotionally in the right place to talk about it anyway.
    I may not live in Cal., but it still affects every GLBT person in America, and the only thing going through my mind when I think about Prop 8 is “Fuck you! You bastards! Fuck you! You lying bastards! You bastards!” over and over again.

  2. 2
    Christine

    Aw, Greta. I’ve been checking back here all day to see when you’d post… I was so fucking sure that this thing would fail. I just can’t believe that people would be so fucking stupid and bigoted and… argh. I’m so, so sorry, for you and Ingrid. I’m sending long distance e-hugs from Rogers Park in Chicago (you’re a fellow Chicagoan? That’s so cool!). You’re right. We will win this thing. Time and patience and determination, and we will win this fucking thing.
    I halfway wish I lived in California right now so I could do something. Don’t know what I’d do, other than go into churches and scream at people, but… something. We’re all stronger than this, all this hate and bigotry and bullshit. We’ll win, in the end. Time is on our side.

  3. 3
    Mike Haubrich, FCD

    How soon after a proposition is passed can a new one introduced to counter it?

  4. 4
    Susan B.

    I am so royally pissed off right now (and have been all day) that I haven’t been able to celebrate the Obama victory. I keep trying to find words to put into a blog post and every time I try I end up shouting. Thanks for putting this so well, especially when you must be twice as angry as I am.
    I’m from California (now living in New York), and I was feeling really proud of my home state for making progress in this civil rights issue. I really did not expect over half the population to vote for bigotry and idiocy.

  5. 5
    Anonymous

    Hey Greta,
    Long time reader/lurker here
 fellow Californian and also quite ticked off and hurt.
    I have spent a good portion of my day reading blogs, writing responses on forums and I still don’t feel any better about it.
    Words can only do so much.
    Anyway, I am with you on the mix of bittersweet emotions.

  6. 6
    poem

    You and Ingrid were in my thoughts and in my heartache today. My elation last night turned into bitter disappointment this morning. My celebration has been overshadowed by angst fatigue.
    Hugs from Washington State.

  7. 7
    CaseOne

    I’m sorry, Greta.

  8. 8
    Leigh Shryock

    I sent a consoling email. I don’t know if you got it, but, reposting:
    Man, I thought that Prop 8 was going to go down. :(
    Not going to go into the details, which I’m sure you know, just going to offer my condolences. The fact that such bigotry still exists is appalling.

  9. 9
    Ebonmuse

    I’m so sorry, Greta. As happy as I still am that Barack Obama won the presidency, it’s been a bittersweet victory because of this. I really thought that the No on 8 campaign had the momentum on its side; before the election, if I had had to choose any state to have this battle in, it would have been California. I don’t know what happened, and I’m sure we’ll find out soon – but there’s still so much pent-up emotional energy being released, I think we all need a little time off from politics to decompress.
    But this isn’t the end of this fight. We need some time to rest and marshal our resources, and then we’re going to come back stronger than ever. No matter what temporary setbacks we suffer, we have the momentum of history on our side. The bigots can take away the outer, legal trappings of marriage, but they can never change what’s real – and given a few more years, they may not be able to do either one. Every poll says that time is on our side. I’ll never say that people should have to wait to exercise their rights as human beings, but let’s take what comfort we can from the knowledge that the religious right’s day of reckoning is getting closer all the time.

  10. 10
    Eric

    I’m so sorry Greta for what happened in your state. Unfortunately, I have nothing but words. The Supreme Court needs to smack them the majority of Californians. There are supposedly protections in the Constitution where the majority can’t take away the rights of the minority. Not that it seems to matter anymore.
    I know my country has made gains, but there is still way too far to go. Also, fuck you LDS.

  11. 11
    Joe

    Greta,
    I was thinking along those lines today. I wept last night, listening to Obama’s victory speech; hearing him repeat Lincoln’s words of reconciliation and calling us to meet our challenges is a moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
    On the other hand, I’m bitterly angry at the outcome of Prop 8. I’m sorry that you, and Ingrid, and so many of my friends continue to be treated like second-class citizens by a country and a people whose values should preclude this from happening. My sympathy to you and Ingrid – although I’m pretty sure you’re still married – and to all the loving couples of California (and the rest of the country) who are denied their civil rights and social benefits by malice, ignorance, and shortsightedness.

  12. 12
    Nentuaby

    How soon after a proposition is passed can a new one introduced to counter it?
    Posted by: Mike Haubrich, FCD | November 05, 2008 at 05:58 PM

    There’s no limit. I’m pretty sure there’ve been ballots where Proposition X has said something like “If voted into law this will supersede the provisions of Proposition X-1.”
    It’s just a matter of when we can next build up the political will to fight a battle as bruising as the anti-8 campaign. The process of just getting a proposition qualified takes enough time that the 2010 midterms are probably out of the question, but 2012 or any special elections in the meanwhile may be possible.

  13. 13
    mimbles

    I was thinking of you and Ingrid yesterday. I’m so sorry.

  14. 14
    Kris Shanks

    Oh Greta,
    you’ve described what I’m feeling so well. I’ve been in such a funk today thinking about how unexpectedly joyous it was to get married last week, and now to have the majority of Californians say it doesn’t count hurts much more deeply than I anticipated.

  15. 15
    Rob J

    Greta,
    I think you’re preaching to the choir here (not that your rant isn’t justified). As a straight boy in MN, far removed from CA (and don’t forget about the similar shameful measures that passed in AZ, AR, and FL) some people have asked my why I care, why I donated money to No On 8. My answer is why DON’T you care? Why don’t you care that state constitutions, documents intended to grant and protect rights, are being ammended to restrict and deny rights? Why don’t you care that discrimination and bigotry is being written into law? Why don’t you care that our morality is being legislated?
    Start a ballot initiative to deny blacks the right to public schooling and see how many of these same people are suddenly appalled. It’s the same thing. It’s all so hypocritical and frustrating, I don’t know if I should be proud of America right now or ashamed. Did we take 2 steps forward last night or 2 steps back? I can’t figure it out…

  16. 16
    mike

    You are the one person I “know” whose marriage is affected by Prop 8, so you were the one I thought about all through the day waiting for those votes to come in, and when I saw the results this morning. I can’t imagine what this must feel like. You have my sincere sympathy.

  17. 17
    Penny

    It’s you I was thinking about yesterday when I kept Prop 8 in my head all yesterday. I’m a regular lurker here and wish I could have shown more support in some more measurable way.
    I was so sure that Prop 8 would go down.
    Just offering hugs for you. I am still so very hopeful.

  18. 18
    Burrow Owl

    Allow me to echo the sentiments of Eric @ 6:43PM.
    The idea that the tyranny of the majority may be rightfully imposed upon the minority is one of the dangers of convincing the populace at large that we live in a democracy rather than a constitutionally limited republic.
    Here’s to the hope that the courts adhere to the principles of common decency and uphold the rights of the minority.

  19. 19
    John Moeller

    I’m sorry.

  20. 20
    Weary Muse

    As a Canadian citizen, I was very proud that the electorate of my country’s southern neighbour came out in droves to vote and decided to take their country in a new direction after eight years of Republican rule.
    Discovering today that Prop. 8 succeeded in California has made my memories of yesterday bittersweet indeed.
    My heart goes out to you and Ingrid, as well as the entire GLBT community of California.
    ~The Muse

  21. 21
    Nes

    I’m sorry to hear about Prop 8, Greta. Aside from the some of the races in MN, the state I’m originally from, it’s the only out-of-state vote that I’ve really been watching. Like many here, I was sure it would pass.

  22. 22
    Lynet

    Oh, Greta. I wrote a sonnet for gay married couples on my blog before coming here, and it seems almost pitiful now. I’m not qualified to speak about what you must be feeling. You have my deepest sympathy.

  23. 23
    j

    you echoed my feelings exactly. I went to bed last night with the girl I’m dating, with people still honking & cheering in the streets, feeling inspired about obama and proud of the USA, and thinking how cool it is that I live in the bay area now after growing up in a reddest-of-the-red state.
    woke up this morning to her telling me about prop 8. just like the measure my home state passed in 04. it always feels like such a deeply personal attack…
    I donated $25 I couldn’t afford to no on prop 8, the first time ive ever donated to any political campaign. But I dont regret it; at least i feel like i did something.

  24. 24
    ssjessiechan

    Greta… I am beyond words about this. I went to bed last night hoping, hoping that by the time we woke up LA county would have blown the socks off of all those bigoted (or easily confused) bastards. I’m having a seriously hard time being happy about this election knowing that my adopted state spat on its own citizens like this. And yet, and yet, I cannot come close to imagining what it must feel like not to know whether you are married or not to the love of your life. To hold that certificate in your hands and not know… and know that there are people who want to rip that piece of humanity and love to shreds.
    I am so, so sorry. I feel like we’ve failed you, and all our fellow Californians. I’m wondering now, is there a way I could have spared some time to volunteer? Could I have contributed some of that money I spent going about my life as if I, personally, had nothing to lose? Should I have spent more time arguing with co-workers that seemed to think 8 was about keeping their kids from being sent to forced gay marriage camps, rather than contenting myself to a mere brow-beating and the knowledge they were too dumb to vote anyway (and I’m pretty sure they didn’t, even with all their racist shit the day of the election)? The one solace I can take was the cry of glee I gave as I stabbed my ballot with ink-a-dot. But it wasn’t enough.
    From the bottom of my heart, from me and my boyfriend who may one day commit miscegenation… we are sorry we failed you. We hope the courts will set this straight. We wish it will turn out right for you and your love. And we know that your love is rightious and true, and no amount of voting or campaigning can take away that you are human beings worthy of the right to be yourselves and love whomever you damn well please, right into the emergency room thank-you-very-much.
    *hugs* Stay strong.

  25. 25
    Anonymous

    I feel terribly disappointed that the majority voted yes on prop 8. Anyone should be able to marry the one they love if they want, it shouldn’t even be a political question. I can only hope that the world one day will look back at this time and think how ignorant many people were.

  26. 26
    spriteless

    Poor Greta, I feel for you but in California’s constitution…
    in Article I Section 7 Item b
    A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens. Privileges or immunities granted by the Legislature may be altered or revoked.
    That means noone’s married in California any more. >_>

  27. 27
    Pig

    You know, the thing that got me, as a straight male, with the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign:
    I honestly don’t see what is wrong with teaching children that being gay and getting married is okay.
    The things they raised to make people afraid? When you scratch the surface of them? What was actually wrong with any of that?
    Teach your children that people are people? Not gay and straight, but just people? That is what the Catholics were afraid of? That is what the Mormons were really afraid of?
    The fear they pumped into the population, the fear that hey, maybe they might have to actually allow people to have the same rights as them, that they couldn’t spit on their neighbours, that is what won in California.
    That is what religion is really all about. It is about the Elizabeth Dole’s of the world, who use terms like “Atheist” as an insult, it is about the Fred Phelps’ of the world, who beat fear of God into their children.
    It is about the KKK who bombed churches in the name of God, the radical Islamic terrorists that flew planes into buildings, the Pope who wants to beatify the man who declared the church neutral to Hitler, it is about all of those piddling little groups using their imaginary friends to get away with being horrible people.

  28. 28
    Steven Alleyn

    I’m… I’m sorry, Greta. You and Ingrid don’t deserve this – no one deserves this. People have a right to do what they want and I think Prime Minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau said it best when he told the Canadian public that “there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” I am hopeful that the absentee ballots will vindicate you, but in the event that they do not, I hope you will continue to fight for what is your right.
    You’re a very intelligent, very eloquent writer, Greta, and your work building bridges for people between sexual worlds they might not understand is more important than I think you even know, yourself. Thank you for everything you’ve done.
    I wish you everything you deserve, everything you have a right to, and so much more. You’re good people.

  29. 29
    SolidChris

    Hi Greta, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I’ve been really enjoying it, atheism and sex? Brilliant. I feel compelled to say that you have put me (and the people I forward your blog onto) through a bit of an emotional ride over Prop 8. I was following the result of this closer than the presidential election. My heart goes out to you, Ingrid and the many others affected by this hateful piece of legislation. I hope your country will learn to accept you and not discriminate against you. Please keep writing and please keep fighting – your words are an inspiration.

  30. 30
    Kit Whitfield

    So, so sorry. And so disappointed. My country still only has that lousy civil partnerships cop-out; I was hoping California might be one of the beacons or justice that could sway the world.
    So thanks for nothing, LDS. Personally I’d like to see some gay rights activists set up in Utah and take the war to their home ground. And shame on you, just over half of California.
    For what it’s worth, no matter how the law goes, in my eyes and the eyes of anyone halfway reasonable, you’re married and always will be.
    My condolences to you and your lovely wife.

  31. 31
    Greg L

    I have so much to say, just like you do, Greta, but all I’ll say for now is my heart is with you, and the hearts of my friends and family, too. We refuse to let the religious right control our country – Prop 8 will be destroyed in time.
    I wish you and your wife the best.

  32. 32
    Ola

    Forget about them for a while. A long while, even. No matter how much you care — some people will always be assholes.
    You’re doing a great job, Greta. And time is on your side. Don’t let the stupid fucking bigots to screw up your life more than they already did. Just forget about them.
    Condolences,
    Ola

  33. 33
    CyberLizard

    I hear you. My state (FL) did the same thing, although not quite as disruptively since my backwater shithole* already bans gay marriage via legislation.
    It would appear that all the racist pigs out there decided to swap “the blacks” for “the gays”.
    It’ll take a little longer, but we’ll get there. Stay strong.
    * That may be a little strong since we went blue this time, but still…

  34. 34
    Jon Berger

    A lot of the post-election punditry I’ve been reading, for what it’s worth, suggests that the Obama victory and the Yes on 8 victory are not unconnected. Same-sex marriage is apparently a pretty unpopular concept in the African American and Hispanic communities, at least the older segments of them, and those folks turned out in unprecedentedly large droves to vote for Obama. I doubt if that helps, but it’s one analysis of this seemingly lopsided outcome.
    It ain’t over yet. This will be fought out in the courts, and unlike a lot of ballot measures that get fought out in the courts after they pass, we already know what the California Supreme Court thinks about this one. It would obviously have been nicer to have a majority of voters indicate that they’re on your side, but, as many others have pointed out, the main point of a constitution is to put an upper limit on what majorities can do to minorities. It’s entirely possible that the Cal Supremes will see it that way, and it’s even possible that their opinion will not only reject Prop 8 but also put some limits on the way that ballot initiatives can re-write the fundamentals of the constitution in the future, which would be an unexpected silver lining. It’s something to hope for that’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility, anyway. Judges don’t much like having their decisions overturned, and I suspect that Ronald George is one pretty pissed-off judge right now.

  35. 35
    Myk

    Commiserations on Prop 8, Greta. That really sucks.
    But I have to say, 64% is a big turnout? And looking at historical stats, it seems that it is, for the US. Maybe you lot should try compulsory voting. Australia’s voter turnout is usually around 95%. Maybe it causes centrist policies to dominate in ou politics, but better that than having the religious right gain as much power as it seems to have in the US.

  36. 36
    konrad_arflane

    @Jon Berger: I’m not sure I follow you. The law that was overturned by the California Supreme Court was overturned because it conflicted with the California constitution. Prop 8 amends that constitution – how can it then conflict with it (leaving aside for a moment any internal contradictions that may arise)? It seems to me that the only document that could overrule the California constitution would be the constitution of the United States. I don’t know as much as I might like about the US judicial system, but does the California SC even have jurisdiction to decide one way or the other, or is this a case for the federal courts? And if it is, how is the SCOTUS likely to rule?
    @Greta Christina: I’m so very, very sorry for you and Ingrid. This almost makes me wish I didn’t know about the internet so I wouldn’t have to hear about people I care about (albeit vicariously) getting this sort of treatment. Sitting here half a world away is damnably frustrating.

  37. 37
    Sebatinsky

    As a Floridian, I feel very similarly.
    Our state, however, required a 60% vote to pass our proposition 2. It got 62%.
    Almost two thirds of the people in my state voted to amend our constitution to take rights away from people. That is not how we are supposed to work. We are America. For all our civil rights problems in the past, the direction we are supposed to move is forward – shedding the ugly skin of legalized discrimination early in the process of healing.
    Greta, you are unlucky enough to be a member of the only two groups I can think of who are still legally discriminated against in the US (Counting GLBTQ as one group)Frankly with the ERA not passed, I suppose you could argue that it’s three groups.
    My sympathies, and I understand, a little bit, how you are feeling.

  38. 38
    Liz

    I’m so sad and sorry about Prop 8, but it’s not the end. I’m sad for you, for my family members and friends feeling the same heartache, and for everyone who is so hurt and disappointed. Sad for me, cause it sucks today to be a Californian. We voted for humane rights for food animals, but not equal right to our fellow humans. Sucks.
    Don’t mourn, organize, as Joe Hill said before they killed him. Sleep in, make love, rest, get it together so tomorrow we may begin again.
    I’ve lurked here for sometime, and am compelled to write. Speaking of Hyde Park, Monday night I was talking to my in-laws, who live three blocks from Obama’s house, elderly liberal U of Chicago folks, and I talked about our CA election and how important defeating Prop 8 was (I’m a straight married white gal) and they really struggled with the notion that civil unions weren’t enough, and believed that marriage is totally a heterosexual concept.
    I find in talking to them, and to others like them who are supportive of GLBT rights but very uncertain of the notion of same-sex marriage, that their doubts originate in the long deep religious roots of marriage. For instance, raised Catholic, I was brought up with the notion of marriage as a sacrament. Marriage itself is a deeply religious concept and separating the notion from all the unconscious religious baggage may be too great a challege. My deeply loving liberal catholic mom doesn’t buy any of the hateful anti-gay BS but can’t take that intelletual step past heterosexual limits to marriage either. In other words, logic can’t overcome this collective religious unconscious imprinting.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you that the deep cultural approval of marriage is not something that should be denied to anyone, but I wonder if that’s the route to take legally. Fighting to change culture can be done, fighting to change deep, almost invisible inculturation of religious notions may be impossible.
    Sometimes I think we need to end the notion of marriage for all and promote the notion of civil unions, the contract of rights for all, gay and straight. Confine ‘marriage’ and all its baggage to the religious ghetto. You want to be married, go to your church, but it has no legal meaning. You want to be united legally, go to City Hall. This used to be the law in New York State, for instance, all couples had to get a civil ceremony, then they could seek religious ceremony at their respective churches or synagogues. But the legal ceremony was what counted, not the religious.
    My own rejection of religion makes me see a disconnect between full legal rights and ‘marriage’ because of the cultural baggage associated with its religious roots.
    When you’re up for it, when the next step begins, I’d very much like to hear your thoughts, especially as an atheist. It’s such a damn muddle.
    I’m so so sorry we weren’t able to defeat this.
    Best regards and wholehearted love to you and Ingrid and all couples seeking respect. Action is the antidote to despair.
    Liz

  39. 39
    Anne

    Prop. 8 made me just sick and angry. I feel pretty sure it will be overturned, again. Shit like that should never even make it onto the ballot. Like what if someone decided to introduce a new measure mandating no colored people in public schools? Some things should just not be open to a public vote, period. Who cares if 50 or 60 or even 90% of the people are retarded bigots? They should not get to make unfair discriminatory laws.

  40. 40
    konrad_arflane

    “Sometimes I think we need to end the notion of marriage for all and promote the notion of civil unions, the contract of rights for all, gay and straight. Confine ‘marriage’ and all its baggage to the religious ghetto. You want to be married, go to your church, but it has no legal meaning. You want to be united legally, go to City Hall. This used to be the law in New York State, for instance, all couples had to get a civil ceremony, then they could seek religious ceremony at their respective churches or synagogues. But the legal ceremony was what counted, not the religious.”
    a) That’s how it works in Germany, AFAIK. Interestingly, much of Germany’s basic political structure, including, I expect, separation of church and state, were dictated by the US after WWII.
    b) However, I’m fairly certain Germans call themselves married (“verheiratet”) even if they only have a “civil union” – that is, if they haven’t had a religious marriage ceremony.
    I think the people for whom “marriage” denotes a male-female union should get over themselves and realize that they’re welcome to think what they like, but that their private idiosyncracies are irrelevant to this important matter of civil rights. However, until they do, I have no problem with any compromise that allows gay people the substance of a marriage by another name. It may even be what’s needed to change the cultural perception of what “marriage” means – though it may take a generation or two.

  41. 41
    Kalia

    I disagree a bit with Liz that what makes marriage different from civil union is just its religious trappings. Marriage carries a huge amount of social and cultural weight, even for folks like me and Jon who are pretty far from any particular religion. If civil unions are “just as good” as marriage, then why can’t we call them marriage? Because there’s something special about That Word.
    And on another point, my great worry about Prop 8 is that a majority of the state _did_ intend to vote the right way, but thought that a vote _for_ 8 was a vote _for_ marriage equality. I’ve actually talked to a fair number of folks who were confused by that whole “Vote yes on No” concept. We were fighting an uphill semantic climb there. Also the other side were lying their asses off.
    I spent a very wet afternoon outside of a Costco in Santa Rosa waving my little No on 8 sign at passing cars, just down the block from a huge clump of Yes on 8 folks (they had balloons, I was jealous). A few of them wandered over to chat during the afternoon, and they were actually very nice folks. We agreed about a lot of stuff (1st amendment rights being at the top of the list), and I couldn’t get my head around how these folks could be so nice in some ways and so close-minded in others. I had agreed with the No on 8 headquarters folks not to “engage” the other side, which I took to mean not trying to talk them out of their terrible point of view, and to their credit they weren’t trying to talk me out of mine either. We mostly just commiserated about the pelting rain we were all standing in.
    The main concerns I was hearing from them were the “teaching gayness in schools” business and concern that their churches would be put out of business if they refused to perform gay marriages. My teacher friends tell me that parents can pull their kids out of school on a particular day for almost any reason, to keep them from hearing about dangerous things like history of civil rights, birth control or evolution. Why is this issue so scary and different? Also, churches can currently refuse to perform marriages they don’t want to perform. Why is this any different? I honestly don’t get it.
    I agree entirely with Greta that the passage of 8 makes it harder to really celebrate Obama’s wonderful victory. But I do relish the thought that we have a president-elect who can speak in complete, coherent and dignified sentences. It’s been a while since we’ve had a president I could respect, and for that I’m utterly grateful.

  42. 42
    Dave Haaz-Baroque

    I am so so sorry. Like many people on this blog, I was thinking of you and Ingrid through this whole ordeal.
    ::hug::
    But you know what makes me far angrier than all the people that voted ‘Yes’ on Prop 8? All the people that opposed Prop 8 WHO DIDN’T BOTHER TO VOTE.
    Voter turnout in the country may have been astronomical, but here in our city it was abysmal. Only about half of the registered voters in San Francisco bothered to show up to vote. The primary group of people who didn’t bother? That’s right, younger voters. Again.
    And I keep hearing from people, or hearing about people in the LGTB community who didn’t bother to vote, and are now devastated that this proposition passed!
    Has San Francisco taken so much for granted?
    We didn’t lose by much. If all of the people who really did support gay marriage had taken the time to vote against Prop 8, I really think we would have won.
    THAT’S what really drives me crazy.

  43. 43
    Zipi

    I have been coming here ever since the middle of election night. I knew that your feeling would be exactly like mine so I kept on waiting for you to put in words so I would be able to have something to show at friends that are surprised that I am not celebrating.
    Please, I ask you, write that atheist rant. We need it.

  44. 44
    Raging Bee

    The passage of Prop. 8 is a stain on an otherwise spectacular repudiation of the far right. But I thnk we should all take consolation from the following circumstances: first, as Kalia already said, the pro-8 faction had to lie like Hell to get their way, first saying a “yes” vote meant “yes” to same-sex marriage, then saying both McCain and Obama supported 8, when (IIRC) both opposed it or were at least silent; second, the vote was close, so a change of heart is possible; third, the anti-8 faction was burdened with two PR disasters — that school field trip and Mayor Newsom making an angry ass of himself; fourth, today’s anti-gay hysteria is mostly a diversion from other problems mainstream America don’t want to address — as we start to address those problems and things get less frustrating, the haters and scapegoaters could easily run out of fuel over time.
    All in all, one of the main reasons Prop. 8 passed was that its supporters waged a skillful campaign, and their opponents didn’t. That can change, as Obama’s victory proves.

  45. 45
    John B Hodges

    Greg Greenwald has a proposal for the next step for supporters of Marriage equality to promote. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, in whole or in part. See his case at
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/11/06/doma/index.html

  46. 46
    Robert Madewell

    My state also bought into the hate and discrimination. I am disappointed in Arkansas. However, it is Arkansas, what do you expect?
    Link Here

  47. 47
    Indigo

    I’d like to add my voice to the chorus.
    I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that Prop 8 passed. Admittedly, I live in a liberal area of a liberal country where gay marriage is already a fact of life, but I simply couldn’t wrap my brain around it. How can anyone oppose the right of two consenting adults to build their lives together, to form a family, to stand up and have their union recognised like anyone else’s, on the basis of what the respective individuals have in their pants? When did the important matters of human relationships become a question of standardised parts?
    Nevertheless, I believe the day is coming when that attitude will finally fail, and I believe it’s coming soon.

  48. 48
    Sharon

    Greta, I’m not American but I stayed up late to watch the results come in and cried with happiness when Obama won. I thought his victory speech was fantastic, especially his acknowledgment of the diversity of people in the country, by race, political leaning, gender, sexuality and disability/none.
    I was saddened to read about Prop 8 and feel bad for the people facing such backward discrimination.
    May I please address Anne who called the people voting for Prop 8 “retarded bigots.” Anne, do you really think all those who voted yes are actually learning disabled, or are you using the word retarded as a shorthand for stupid, ill informed and pathetic? Please read this post and see that saying “retard” as an insult is considered hate speech by disability activists.

  49. 49
    Brock

    IANAL, but if I were wanting to contest Prop 8 in court, at least insofar as it purports to anull existing marriages, I’d be arguing that it violates the Contracts Clause of the US Constitution, which says that states cannot pass any “Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts”.
    As far as issuing more same-sex marriage licenses, I’m pretty sure you’ll have to wait for another referendum in a few years. Time is on your side, GC; I hope you can take some small comfort in that.

  50. 50
    Anonymous

    One more thought to add:
    My country did not buy the politics of hate and lies, divisiveness and bigotry. But my state bought it hook, line, and sinker.
    Strictly speaking, roughly half of your country bought it, and roughly half of your state bought it. The difference between 52% and 46% (or 52% and 48%), while having a strong impact in the outcome of the election, is not really meaningful if you were only wondering whether your fellow citizens have gotten over their bigotry. Reverse the percentages and what your fellow citizens believe in has not basically changed at all.

  51. 51
    Andrea

    Did you hear? They make crackers in black now.
    Anyway, the Court can step up and give all these troglodytes a lesson in Civics any time now.
    The flag says: CALIFORNIA _________.
    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the _______ for which it stands….
    This is not a democracy; if it were we wouldn’t even be talking about the “black vote.” “Upholding the will of the voters” is NOT a judge’s job, upholding the constitution is.
    I say we bring back literacy tests.

  52. 52
    Kit Whitfield

    Did you hear? They make crackers in black now.
    That’s an ugly thing to say. Surely the idea is to get past stereotyping. I’m angry about this too, but calling people names just cheapens us.

  53. 53
    Greta Christina

    What Kit said. As angry and upset as many of us are about this, it is not okay to resort to racist scapegoating. (And literacy tests were one of the ugliest and most shameful parts of our history. No, we should bloody well not bring them back.)
    I’m working on a separate piece that touches on this. In the meantime, Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend has an excellent piece on this subject. Anyone who wants to blame the African- American community for the passage of Prop 8 needs to read it, stat.

  54. 54
    Kit Whitfield

    Yes, it’s a bit worrying how fast some people are leaping to blame African Americans for this crappy amendment. If it was white people who’d shown such heavy numbers in favour of Prop 8, I doubt anyone would be talking about it. Considering that Obama’s just been elected and everyone’s (rightly) saying it’s a great sign of progress to have a black guy be President, it’s disappointing: the message seems to be ‘Black President good, black citizens using their votes bad.’

  55. 55
    Rystefn

    I’m shocked and horrified by what happened. I remember not so long ago when I was celebrating with the woman I love that she might finally be able to marry the woman she loves. Now we’re back to this. It makes me ashamed to claim the same species as those bigots.

  56. 56
    Julanar

    As sad as we all are now, I think there is hope for the future. These horrible anti-gay referendums exist largely because of the homophobic administration that we’ve been living under for the past eight years. Bush went so far as to support a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in every state in the country!
    However, we will soon have a President who is clearly an opponent of this form of discrimination, and even spoke out against Proposition 8. It won’t happen overnight, but I think this refreshing change in leadership is eventually going to lead to change for the country as well. We just have to keep fighting.

  57. 57
    David Harmon

    The Repeal 8 fight has gotten underway with major snark (via John Scalzi).

  58. 58
    B.T. Murtagh

    This is why, in spite of the tightening economy, I have decided to maintain my automatic monthly contribution to the ACLU.
    I’m sorry there are so many jerks, Greta, but this shall not stand.

  59. 59
    DemonHype

    I had no idea you lived in CA–my deepest sympathies to you both.
    When will the morons in this country learn that another person’s rights are not up for a majority vote? Both of my otherwise fair and intelligent parents are big fans of the separate but equal argument against gay marriage, and I’ve never been more disgusted with them, or ashamed of them. I’ve given up fighting with them–they’re in their sixties and it’s pretty obvious that the winds are changing with the younger generations. What’s sick is that they had this same argument with their elders in the sixties in support of the civil rights movement. Now they’ve become their parents.
    Now I have one more thing to look forward to if I make it to California, besides my dream job, and that is putting in my vote for marriage equality. Bigoted bastards. Brock is totally right though–time is on your side.

Leave a Reply