Although the fury of Election Day has come and gone, Obama’s win isn’t the only thing making headlines nearly one week later; California’s Proposition 8, which unfortunately passed with 52 percent of the vote, remains a fairly dominent topic.
And despite my last post noting my assumed removal from the political scene, I naturally feel the need to comment about this obvious display of inequality that changed the recently granted gay marriage rights of the West Coast.
Taking a gander at most newspapers and magazines, Prop 8 received national attention as a ballot question and, following the presidential race, touted the highest financial expenditures, approximately $73.4 million, from both sides – those for the proposition, which would ban gay marriage, and those fighting against the statute and the limitations it would impose upon a state that only several months ago legally approved of same-sex marriages.
As someone who, quite unfortunately, is a North Carolina resident and thus, had little say in helping to decide Prop 8, I could only cross my fingers – and toes, legs, arms and even my eyeballs – hoping that Californians would retain their equality, retain that sense of comfort and happiness in knowing sexuality no longer dictates which rights they are entitled to. And despite refreshing my browser, set to CNN.com, about a million times on Nov. 6, praying for the judgment to fall against the proposition, it became clear later that day that the tides had sadly turned on the other side of the country … and I was one of many, many people who couldn’t help but deeply sigh at that decision.
I can easily sit here and spout the same opinions I held last time I wrote about gay marriage – check out One ticket to hell, please – but instead, let’s take a look at some of the information that has spewed from this ill-fated decision…
— In a Nov. 6 Time Magazine article by John Cloud, “Why Gay Marriage Was Defeated in California,” the writer takes a look at why the proposition passed despite more money – nearly twice as much – and more visible support against it, including celebrities. And while he presents a viable argument explaining this reasoning, one singular point struck me as shocking:
“Gays came back in some polls, but they couldn’t pull out a win. Part of the reason is that Obama inspired unprecedented numbers of African Americans to vote. Polls show that black voters are more likely to attend church than whites and less likely to be comfortable with equality for gay people. According to CNN, African Americans voted against marriage equality by a wide margin, 69% to 31%.” – Cloud
And while I undoubtedly believe this isn’t the case across the country – or perhaps I’d just prefer to hope it isn’t - I am simply alarmed at those percentages. African Americans, who only several decades ago fought for their own equality, truly voted against equality for others? I saw this article, this segment, and felt deeply saddened by it. I would like to say I find it hard to believe that individuals whose ancestors were refused a plethora of rights in this country would refuse those same liberties to others, but the numbers don’t lie. To me, it’s nothing but ignorance, and honestly, it’s a bit disgraceful.
— Melissa Etheridge, who has been openly gay for a number of years now, issued her opinions about the monumental decision, via a blog entry at The Daily Beast, in “You Can Forget My Taxes” (a thank you to my friend, Aimee, for this link). She makes some amazing points in her message, which – if you opt to not read the piece in its entirety – boils down to the fact that gay men and women should not have to pay the same amount of taxes due to some of their rights being stripped as a result of Prop 8.
“Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.” – Etheridge
And, in my eyes, she creates a very strong argument. If, as a society, we are going to tell people they are, indeed, “second-class citizens,” why should they have to pay the same amount of state and federal taxes if they are not allowed the exact same rights as everyone else? Simply put, we shouldn’t. It’s unfair. It is unjust of us, as a country, to tell people they can have “most” freedoms, but not all, and yet should fork over the same percentage of income as those who are granted every liberty afforded to straight men and women. Yes, I grew up in a household where I was repeatedly told that “life isn’t fair,” but I’ve never been one to accept that … and clearly, neither will Etheridge and many others, both straight and gay, across this nation.
— A coworker brought an editorial cartoon from Slate magazine’s Web site to my attention today, and I think it quite adequately depicts how that 52 percent of California voters see gay marriage rights:
It’s sad to realize how accurate this image is, especially in light of the approval of Prop 8. It’s also interesting to look at it and know how little we’ve truly progressed in the last 50 years. In 1958 – not as long ago as many of us would like to think – the same image could have displayed “whites” on the left and “blacks” on the right, and been just as truthful as this portrayal.
As a country, we like to think we have far advanced past those days of racism and inquality. These examples are just a few of the many that have emerged following the passing of Prop 8 last week, and I’m sure more will come as protests and vigils continue throughout California in the hopes of turning over this ballot question in 2010. Until then, I’ll keep my fingers and every other body part crossed that with Barack Obama in office – a man who proved America can, sometimes, look past differences and elect a black man as president – not only will California and other states, such as Arizona and Florida which also banned gay marriage this election, change their views on these unions, but the country as a whole can move forward, in the direction of complete equality for all citizens.
Folks, this isn’t change we can openly refuse … it’s the kind of change we really need, and I’m confident we’ll all one day find here in the United States.