Even As Obama Wins, Civil Rights Falter

I am exhausted and elated this morning after Obama's amazing victory last night. Didn't get to bed until 3 a.m. because I was on the phone with friends on the West Coast trying to keep up with Proposition 8, the measure to ban gay marriage in California. At this posting, the ban was winning 52 percent to 48 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times. If it passes, 18,000 people who have wed over the last four and a half months will instantly be unwed. This measure strips people of their civil rights. 

Some of my friends and fellow bloggers -- C. Dale and his husband Jacob and Kate Evans and her wife Annie -- are still holding out hope. And so am I. It is staggering to me how much hate and ignorance still resides in this country. We now have an African American in the White House, but the GLBT community are still second class citizens. As C. Dale suggests on his blog this morning, the Mormon Church should be stripped of its tax exempt status for giving $22 million to secure the ban. Any organized religion or group that works to strip humans of their civil rights should be disbanded and dismantled.  

Two more states -- Florida and Arizona -- wrote discrimination into their constitutions last night by passing amendments banning gay marriage. It's a historic morning, but there are still so many waiting for this country to wake up and recognize other peoples' rights and histories.

UPDATE: Proposition 8 has been approved by voters. This is a tragedy for civil and gay rights in this country. LA Times is reporting that 95 percent of the vote is in and it won 52.1 to 47.9 percent. I hope there is money left to take this back to the courts and fight for those 18,000 married couples who will have their marriages annulled. 


stacebro said…
I'm holding out hope for California, too. Apparently there are up to 3 million ballots still to be counted...
DeadMule said…
Collin, We still have a long way to go as far as accepting everyone. And ignorance abounds. But Obama mentioned gays as Americans in his acceptance speech. Hang on to the hope. Yes, we can.
Anonymous said…
Human rights have taken a serious blow today. Just goes to show you that there are crazy right wing Christian crazies working to undermine other peoples rights.

Emily A. Benton said…
this is sad, but I also want to hang onto hope.
Premium T. said…
It took us this long to get a black president: anything is possible. Keep up the hope.
Brrrooom! said…
Populist measures aren't going to work for gay rights. Look at California - it's a strongly Democrat and left-leaning state - and consider that if populist initiatives are working counter to gay rights there, then that's going to be the case just about everywhere else.

If the Civil Rights movement in the 50s and 60s had depended on populist support, it would never have gone anywhere; likewise for the suffrage movement early in the 20th century. These civil rights movements relied on legal challenge and non-electoral legislation to effect the necessary constitutional changes guaranteeing civil liberties.

The fact is, there are simply far more straight than gay people, and you can't depend on the electoral process for gay rights. What it will take will be high-level court appeals, and probably demonstrations of civil disobedience to get cases heard in the first place (you have to create a case to get it in front of a judge, and generally that requires breaking the law in question!) And THAT takes courage.

It IS possible to change popular perception of thing - the election of Obama, for example, show that racial attitudes of the majority population (whites) have changed dramatically over half a century; it's reasonable to assume the same can happen with gay rights - but to get there, sometimes (as is the case with black/white prejudice) it has to be taken there forcibly, with legal rather than populist mandate.
Brrrooom! said…
Edit: in the 3rd line replace "are" with "aren't"...
Brrrooom! said…
And GAV, focusing on "Christian crazies" isn't going to help, nor is it likely accurate... it's doubtful that 52% of Californians are "Christian crazies".

The problem is that otherwise very n ice folks - they're educated, actually pretty liberal, and would probably be perfectly polite to you - are saying "hmmm... maybe not" when asked whether gay marriage should persist in their state.

I mean, by the numbers, many of those who voted for Prop 8 ALSO voted for Obama.

Again, the way to travel this road is constitutional challenges in the LEGAL courts, NOT the court of public opinion.
Anonymous said…
Okay how about just fucking idiot crazies? Obviously you dont live in California and have no idea who has been driving this measure. It WAS the christian right wing and the fucking Mormons. Read up.

Anonymous said…
Let me also say that the voter turnout on Prop 8 was low, so that means a vocal minority of fear and hatemongers decided this for us. Just like the Republicans try to whip their base into a frenzy thats what the religious right did here. The crazies and the Mormons targeted blacks and hispanics who are the ones most scared of GLBT people because God says its wrong. Maybe everyone thought that it was a given this would fail with Obama sure to be president.

Brrrooom! said…
GAV, I am well aware that the measure was driven by a coalition of various Christian conservative groups, with nearly 2/3 of the measure's funding coming from the Mormons. My point is that, once the measure was on the ballot, many otherwise liberal Californians voted for it. THAT, more than religious intolerance (which everyone expects, anyway), is worrying in regards to gay marriage in California in particular, and gay right generally.

In my view, the effective response to this is, in collusion with the Episcopal Church in CA (which opposed Prop 8), to *continue* marrying same-sex couples and use this as a focus to challenge the constitutionality of the ban in California; simultaneously, lobby legislators in Washington to constitutionally protect same-sex marriage at a Federal level, so that courts in CA have a Constitutional precedent with which to override the CA state constitution.

For the next two years, at least, the Democrat party has untrammeled legislative freedom, so THIS would be the time to get started!
Brrrooom! said…
How can the turnout on Prop 8 be low? Was that somehow a different election than the other one occurring on the same day?

Again, the biggest enemy of gay rights isn't hate, it's apathy or, worse, unvoiced approval.
Justin Evans said…
Before someone has a stroke, let me, on behalf of Mormons everywhere, apologize for their close-mindedness and moronic behavior. As a Mormon, I am embarrassed by the people I have known all my life, and yes, some were my brothers, sisters, one parent, and many many cousins (all without the helpmate of polygamy).

I can offer no excuses as to how any group of people can say they love others but try to limit rights and portray the opposition as being out to destroy the mora fabric of a society simply because they want to share in the same promise which has been agreed upon as the basis for an entire nation.

Please know I am genuinely disappointed in their behaviors and wish they were at a point where common sense would make a difference.

I have always said that I am a Mormon, but I don't let it bother me. Now for the firsttime in my life, I am bothered by what I see other Mormons doing en masse.

I am sorry.

verification: burac
Anonymous said…
What i meant to say was that voter turnout was low in California PERIOD. There are more than 36 million in the state and only 9 million voted in the election. I guess they thought Obama was a shoe in and there was no need to vote and that Prop 8 couldnt possibly pass in the land of homos.

Maggie May said…
I know Collin, it's a crap vote and entirely based on fear and ignorance. I truly believe that. I took my kids with me to vote and my daughter Lola is six and stood in the booth with me. She pointed to Prop 8 and said ' Mom remember to say no to taking love away. '

However it's my understanding that it has NOT been decided if people who were married in the previous months lose their legal marriage. I heard on the AP news that that was still unclear. THey interviewed some Constitutional specialist who said he thinks those marriages should NOT be annulled.

Dakota's teacher is a lesbian who recently married and she lives down the street from us with her beautiful wife. I feel so badly for them.
in california of all places. i think if more of SF voted it would've been defeated.

as for where it can go next, hmmm. it has to be appealed to federal courts now and then one side will appeal it to the supreme court = by then lets hope Obama has appointed some new liberal justices.
Anonymous said…
From Ann (who is straight in California)......Congratulations all you straight people. Your marriages are safe, you will never get divorced, and you can live happily ever after hating people who are different than you all the while maybe even hating your heterosexual spouse.
Oh, that does take the gilt off the gingerbread, doesn't it? OMG you're almost as backward as Australia, after all! (Sad joke.)

Oh well - expletives deleted - guess we've all gotta keep on working for it, and I tend to agree that legal challenges plus civil disobedience is probably the way to go.

- Heterosexual Unafraid of Gays
Collin Kelley said…
I love you, Rosemary! I hereby make you an honorary gay. :)
Lisa Allender said…
The thing is, it is not necessary to "include" churches...Brrrooom is correct,, the Episcopal church already performs & recognizes gay mmarriage(as do a few other denominations), but I think what "scares" folks is not a "legal" definition of marriage. Many people believe if gay marriage is recognized as legal, their own church would be forced to perform ceremonies even if their faith(bigoted as I believe that is)contradicts such marriage being viable.
So the solution may be to accept that some churches will never allow same-sex marriage(and that's okay, because WHY WOULD WE GLBTQ WANT TO GET MARRIED THERE, ANYWAY?!), and focus on finding ways to create dialogue such that recognition of a LEGAL MARRIAGE will be to most folks, understandable, and acceptable, even if it is not immediately embraced.
I agree with Brrrooom and Rosemary that civil disobedience has to happen, but it has to be a civil type of ceremony performed in order to set precedent to challenge the idea of the marriage not being "recognized" as legal. A "church" wedding is lovely, but is not what LGBTQ are asking for--we are asking for LEGALLLY RECOGNIZED MARRIAGES. Churches are just one form of a legal-wedding, and since they are private entities, they choose whether to perform and/or recognize such marriages, or not.
Anonymous said…
I am fairly certain at this point that this discriminatory law will not be retroactive. And Kate Kendall has already begun the legal battle from a nice platform: changing a constitution which explicitly says discrimination is illegal by simple majority is bad government. Therefore 8 should be overturned, and the initiative process needs to be amended. I think that's a bold and good approach. While this is specifically about gays this time, who knows who the victim will be next time. It's an unhealthy process. But we'll get there. I know it.
Hey sweetie, Thanks for all your love and support. I just blogged about this... oxox
jaxx said…
this one ain't over till it's over -- there's already a lawsuit in progress, based on the fact that the constitution cannot be overturned by a mere majority, and this bill does represent an overturning of the constitution.

ironically, what seems to have contributed to the passing of this abomination was the high turnout of black voters, who approved it by 65%.
Anonymous said…
frankly, this shocked me. i thought california had things in order.

and i apologize for my own state of floriduh. i voted against that idiotic amendment on tuesday, but i can see i'll have to work harder next time.

don't ever give up hope.

Love you too, Collin, and thank you, I'm honoured!

Can't wait to tell my two gay nieces (from different sides of the family) and in fact to announce it to the world as a way of raising the gay marriage issue. It's still not legal in Australia either. Our new PM, while an improvement on the last on issues of race - which wouldn't be difficult! - seems to have quite a Puritannical streak in other respects.

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