Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, We Could, and Now . . .



As an American, I could not be prouder of our presidential choice yesterday. We will have, in the Oval Office, the first African-American president, a man of great intelligence, who proved himself steady and strong during the campaign, a friend of the middle-class and of diversity, someone who will change for the better the place of the United States on the world stage. The negativity and fear-mongering of the Republican party did not work this time around, at least not at the presidential level. It is a new day.

As a gay person, yesterday's election also proved how far we have to go. As a gay person, I remain, today, a second-class citizen. Anti-gay marriage amendments passed in Arizona and Florida. A gay adoption ban passed in Arkansas. Gay families are not valued, and they should be. Proposition 8 in California is still too close to call, but it appears that it too will pass, stripping away the right of gay people to marry in California, writing discrimination into the state constitution, a new and terrible precedent. (An "L.A. Times" article on the results of Prop 8 and where it might go from here.) These amendments and propositions demonstrate the danger of handing civil rights over to the whims of the majority, a majority who thinks in terms of us and them, instead of us. They demonstrate a fear of gay people and gay families that has everything to do with arrogance and homophobia and little to do with reality. And now some gay people are channeling this fear back, scapegoating black people for voting against us in California (something that needs to be acknowledged and viewed in historical context) because they're an easy target. The power behind hateful anti-gay amendments is overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly religious, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Heterosexuals who take their privilege for granted deserve blame. Gay complacency is at fault, as is the closet. But blame won't create change. Taking stock and moving forward, strategically fighting for the human rights we deserve will, in time.

Time will be on our side. History will be on our side. Equal marriage rights will be the reality one day across this country because people will gradually understand that equal rights for gay people, for all people, does not threaten anyone else. Equal rights will not make the sky fall. (If that were the case, the sky would have already landed on Canada and European countries with full marriage equality.) While Barack Obama cannot wave a magic wand to bring about equality (as a supporter of gay rights but an opponent of equal marriage, he, like many others, has room to evolve), but he can set a different tone, a tone of unity instead of division. By acknowledging gay people in his acceptance speech last night, he began this process. There are reasons for all of us to be hopeful.

6 comments:

alcove547 said...

i have come to realize how slowly progress moves. and how at times it appears stagnant, unknowing that the slightest of hope is alive, amongst millions, building a force so strong it can (and did) move a mountain, if only the slightest distance, a measure none the less. i am for you, i am with you, i AM hopeful that you will see the day we all deserve to see....... equal rights for all people, equal rights for love.

Anonymous said...

"Scapegoating" the African American comunity? Well...what other ethnicity had 70 percent vote for Prop 8 ? Sorry, dude...political correctness can only go so far before it's just....ignoring the truth.

place in sun said...

Anonymous: No one is denying the lopsided AA vote for Prop 8. It is disappointing and needs to be acknowledged. But singling it out when, for instance, the (primarily white) Republican vote for Prop 8 was over 80% in favor (with numbers much larger than the AA vote in favor) and when the funding and power behind Prop 8 was white (the Mormon Church) is concentrating anger in the wrong place. For me it has nothing to do with PC or ignoring truth. It's going after the power behind Prop 8, and the power is white, that's the truth.

place in sun said...

Sorry, Robert, homophobic comments go in the trash, where they belong.

Joey7777 said...

I like Obama and voted for him. But on Prop 8 : What I don't understand is why everyone was so shocked by this. News articles had already predicted that the huge turnout of AA voters for Obama would also push Prop 8 through. If there hadn't been an AA candidate, there wouldn't have been so many AA voters and Prop 8 would have failed. People should have taken the warnings and gotten out there and voted in larger numbers (meaning those who voted "no" on Prop 8 : gay males, Asians, white people under age 30, half of Latinos, etc)

place in sun said...

I agree, Joey, that No on 8 supporters should have gotten out to vote in larger numbers. If every gay person and straight ally who was eligible to vote had come to the polls on election day, I'm sure Prop 8 wouldn't have passed. I certainly wish more AA voters had sided with us, but I think it's inaccurate to claim that they pushed Prop 8 thru any more than evangelicals in general, or white Republicans, or a poorly run No campaign, etc. People seemed surprised that religious black people who supported Obama and know about discrimination would also vote overwhelmingly Yes on 8. It is disappointing but, as you say, not so surprising. It is a wake-up call for a voting block we need to pay attention to.