No We Can’t

I can’t share the sense of celebration today.

Last night, I guest-blogged the election returns here and I felt pretty good. Obama won; it’s historically important, and he has both much better ideas and much greater competence than the mediocrity the Republicans ran against him. Both houses are firmly in Democratic hands, and hopefully we can start to undo the damage that the conservative ascendency did to the judiciary. That’s all good.

But I can’t cheer because it looks like Prop 8 passed. I know some folks still believe the uncounted mail-in ballots will make up the 400,000 vote margin. I don’t believe it. I think California, one of only three states to recognize queer folks as full legal equals, just amended its Constitution to take that away.

On a thread the other day I asked what I would tell my children if Prop 8 passed. With this tight feeling in my throat, I’ve been trying to answer that question all day. I have to tell them that that America will always break their hearts. That the political entity formed with such expansive promise has always fallen short, that the American people, in whole or in part, have had to be dragged forward to the light, away from division and injustice, step by step, for our entire history as an independent country: that even at this late date, we remain so, so far. I have to tell them that Americans, even in the blue states, are a tolerant but not an accepting people — we want to extend our tolerance, by our leave, and not to greet all of our own on equal footing. That we want to condition our extension of rights; to preserve the legal demarcations that ratify condescension.

We always know it’s wrong, and we always do it again. From the Trail of Tears to Korematsu to Gitmo, from the sellout of Reconstruction to the about-face on marriage equality, we so often do the wrong thing. We’re always sorry … after the fact. But so often when we’re at the point of doing the right thing, we turn our backs and do the wrong thing.

I keep writing “we.” I have to tell my children that we fail, that we do the wrong thing. This is a representative government; a whole polity. We is not the United States of Blue States. We rejected secession, and buried 660,000 people to make all of us live under the same Constitution. We are Massachusetts, but We are Mississippi. We are Washington, but We are Missouri. And today We are all California. And We failed.

No We can’t.

Kipling, arch-colonialist and racist but a damned fine poet at times, wrote in “If”:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

Today is a day of both triumphs and disasters. When we went to bed last night, We were not saved, if maybe a little more than We had been the day before. And this morning We are more broken than We were when We went to bed. But today as yesterday, We fail, and We fall short, and We do the wrong thing, and our country is broken. So I’m not celebrating. And that the ways We fail often benefit me personally isn’t a comfort — it’s a rebuke of my complicity. Every day I benefit from it I cheat people who’ve never wronged me; who I’ve never met.

I’m going downstairs now to the drugstore near my office, and I’m going to get some black electrical tape, and I’m going to wear it over my wedding band, and I’m going to tell people that what happened is wrong. I need to do whatever I can to fix this, so that when my kids are old enough to ask, I have a better answer than “No We Can’t.”

Update: Angela in comments pointed out that quoting Kipling, at this historic moment, shows a lack of judgment. I agree, and I apologize. Hiding the mistake, in my view, will do less good than acknowledging it, so I’m leaving it there, with my apology here.

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57 comments for “No We Can’t

  1. jamey
    November 5, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    The whole point to this new america is not to give up. Yes, prop 8 passed. But that doesn’t mean it will always be a part of us. Jim Crowe laws ruled the day for decades in the United States, and that is not who we are today. Separate but equal was the lip service paid to equality, and every day that fallacy becomes more of a memory, and less a reality.

    We will get to a point where people realize they don’t have to hate gay people. And they will realize that gay people shouldn’t be forced to hide, or forced to be ashamed of themselves. They will realize that if you teach children that sometimes men love men, or women love women, that those children won’t grow up hating gay people or – egads – themselves.

    It’s not so terrible to think that we’ll get there someday soon. It’s just another hill to climb.

  2. November 5, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    There is some sadness (well, a lot of sadness) to the passage of Prop 8, but not all the votes have been counted, and NO is behind by fewer votes than there are still to count — so it’s possible it will be defeated.

    Still, we now know we have the structures in place that we can make sure that next election there will be more victories for equality and justice. There has to be. Those of us who fight for social and economic justice are going to be able to refocus our efforts next election. We can, and we will.

    Yes, we can. Unfortunately it will take some more time, but we will do it. It will happen. And there’s nothing that anyone can do to stop it — forestall, sure, but not stop. Justice does not stop. In the words of Dr. King, we have to refuse to believe that the Bank of Justice is bankrupt. It’s not. It just processes things in a certain order, and that order isn’t always fair and we may incur some overdraft fees, but those will be refunded and justice will be served.

    So long as I live and breathe, justice will be served. Don’t despair, just fight harder.

  3. Thomas
    November 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Never despair, always keep trying. That’s why the quote from “If.” Neither triumph nor disaster are final, just stages of the same old battle to do the right thing.

    Dr. King said, “the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

  4. November 5, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    An Open Letter to the Anti-Gay Majority:

  5. Ashley
    November 5, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I bleed along with Prop. 8 dissidents, and agree it casts a long shadow over what should be a joyful, joyful day. And yes, we shall overcome. We shall succeed. We shall thrive.

  6. November 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I can’t help but believe that this isn’t failure, but a watershed: this will be challenged in the courts. And when it gets to the SCOTUS, perhaps it will be given cert, and overturned, and then the highest court in the land will prove that they know better than to live in prejudice.

    Yes, I’m a Pollyanna. But it keeps me sane.

  7. November 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I find it disheartening that not only prop 8, but several other anti-gay ballots passed during the election. The US obviously have further to go than I hoped.

    I hope some of the legal challenges win, but find it sad that they are necessary.

  8. Sarah TX
    November 5, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    I’m posting this all over the damn place because I was feeling absolutely miserable this morning. Just down in the muck. I had placed a lot of energy and a lot of faith in California voters, and I felt personally and culturally betrayed. But then I read this comment by Hawise over at Shakesville, and I thought it was something incredibly profound:

    Sisyphus- as long as you know why you want that rock at the top of the mountain then you will keep pushing it. A few more shoulders to the rock and we will get it there, and we will keep it there for those we love and for future generations.

    (The post it’s attached to is pretty damn inspiring, too). The rock’s rolled back down the hill, and we’ve got to be ready to throw our shoulders against it. As much as it takes, as long as it takes.

  9. yugenue
    November 5, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I take hope in the tears on the face of Rev. Jackson, and knowing the history there, and the perseverance and strength that they represent. I remember my parents crying when Jackson addressed the Democratic convention in 1988, and them trying to explain to me what a change it was in their lifetimes to have an African American person be a serious contender for President. And I remember how devastated all the people who supported him and worked so hard for him were that he didn’t win the nomination– including the “gays and lesbians” that he addressed specifically along with many other constituencies in that speech, IIRC. And then we got George HW Bush. But.

    I will not say that it’s a “mere” 20 years later that Jackson and so many others were able to share in the triumph at Grant Park, because nothing about that 20 years in between was mere. It was a hard fight, all the way there. It still is, and still will be– equality is nowhere near achieved, on any front. But I do now know why my parents were crying, what that awe feels like, and I do see that there is hope and that even in the face of the current devastation, we must not give up.

    Ella Baker is my inspiration in so many things, and her determination is worth remembering: “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

  10. yugenue
    November 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    BTW, I put “gays and lesbians” in quotes because those are the specific words that I remember him using. I do not intend any suggestion of dismissal or disrespect.

  11. Thomas
    November 5, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Sarah, on the same thread this morning I read this. People I respect and care about are crying and hurting and talking about leaving the country that I was born in, and that I love, and that breaks my heart. I’ll never quit trying to make a better world; that’s a job I committed to when I brought children into it. Sadness, anger and rebuke are part of that process.

  12. Nyara
    November 5, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you for saying what I couldn’t find the words for.

  13. November 5, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Crap, my computer is being wonky and I just accidentally deleted a comment from this post that was awaiting moderation. I didn’t read it, i just clicked over to the Feministe back-end and watched it disappear. So… whoever just posted, that was my bad. Try again.

  14. LauraB
    November 5, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    On the other side of the country, voters in my state (CT) rejected a ballot question seeking to hold a constitutional convention whose primary purpose was to get rid of gay marriage.

    It doesn’t in any way make up for the bullshit in California or the thousands of couples who are affected by it. But it’s a ray of hope. As I understand it, the No on 8 folks are already preparing their legal challenges.

  15. Thomas
    November 5, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Laura, I’m a Constitution State native, and I take some comfort in Question 1 failing, preserving marriage equality in the second New England state to recognize it. As much as We are all California, We are Connecticut, too. Maybe soon, there will be at least equal marriage rights from the Delaware River to the Arctic Ocean. Just six more states to get there. New York and Vermont next?

  16. William
    November 5, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I think its important, right now, for everyone to be talking about proposition 8. I think the loss is important because it shows us not how far we still have to go (as if there was some kind of end-point utopia) but where we are right now.

    Because proposition 8 wasn’t fundamentally about gay marriage.

    Lets not pretend this was something it wasn’t. This wasn’t a setback for some specific minority group, this was the failure of democracy. It was aimed at LGBTQ community, but it the end it was just their bad luck to be on the end of this shit this time around. This is what happens when you define “fair” as “mob rule” and you let a simple majority vote decide what human fucking rights we’re going to extend to what people. Proposition 8 was about the will of the majority trumping the right of the individual. It was about people sticking their noses where they don’t belong. It was about a majority of California voters deciding to change the rules of the game in the middle so they could kick around a minority and flex their dominance. It was about cruelty, hatred, and the complete abandonment of any belief in a pluralistic society. Proposition 8 was about ignorance and hatred, funded in large part by a single religious organization, trumping human dignity.

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  18. LauraB
    November 5, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    New York and Vermont next?

    Here’s hoping.

    The Question 1 campaign here was poorly run and underfunded, and there’s no reason why it can’t rear its ugly head again, in some other way. It also didn’t help that the folks backing Question 1 were a coalition of all that is ugly — folks looking to limit/ban gay marriage, abortion rights, labor rights. So there were a whole lot of people who could find something not to like in Question 1. But when they come back I’m sure they’ll be better organized and smarter about it, alas.

  19. November 5, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    (Bi American from the home of a ban two years ago.)

    I’m a skeptic, so these things aren’t my forte, but I had a dream a few nights ago that I was Twittering that Prop 8 was overturned by SCOTUS after passing. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad sign that I dream about blogging.

    Anyhow. I ache at the idea that so many people could vote and choose to remove rights from someone. I’m angry at the fact that people argued that ‘four people shouldn’t decide’ gay marriage, because they’re not only bigots but morons that don’t realize the place of the judiciary in our system.

    But I refuse to sit solely in despair in light of the fact that the world celebrates with us in the election of Obama, that SD and CO said no to anti-choice measures, and that there are now three gay reps in Congress. I’m angry, but I’m not refusing to cheer for what deserves cheers.

  20. Harrison
    November 6, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Well, speaking as a California resident who voted against Prop. 8, I can say that I feel a range of emotions–sadness at the passing of the Prop., but happiness that we have a new and progressive president. So it’s not been a perfect 24 hours; but this is life. It’s never perfect.

    I number among my friends a wonderful gay couple who recently got married. I wonder what will become of their marriage. Of course, no one can stop them from loving each other, but a stupid and cruel (and/or fearful) group of people can conspire to take away at least some of their rights. That is not right, and perhaps the good folks will prevail in the court battle that is coming.

    I always have to scoff at the term “activist judges.” As far as I can tell, “activist judges” translates, in right-wingspeak, to “Any judge who decides anything I don’t like. The hell with checks and balances and three branches of government.”

    It’s also laughable (but sad at the same time) that many of those who crow about wanting to get government out of people’s lives have two exceptions in their philosophy: gay people and women who are seeking an abortion. I know I’m only about the millionth person to say this, but that doesn’t make it less true–or less unjust.

    For all that…as others have pointed out, we can do something about it. We can support the people and organizations who are fighting this fight. I agree–the worst thing to do now is to give up. Let’s not let the fundies win this one.

  21. November 6, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I have dozens of my students at an anti Prop 8 demonstration in West Hollywood right now. And if I weren’t sick, I’d be with them.

    Here’s my gut instinct: we come back with another initiative in 2010. The left doesn’t spread its resources so thin on so many other worthy causes. President Obama comes in and tapes a spot making it clear he doesn’t favor discrimination. And we win. Besides, every day the grim reaper will remove more in the demographic most likely to oppose gay marriage (the over-65 crowd)…

  22. November 6, 2008 at 2:49 am

    It is really sad that 70% of black voters were in favor of prop 8.

    I blogged about this tonight and what it means for feminists.

  23. November 6, 2008 at 3:15 am

    I’m sorry you feel so down. I am a black lesbian and I couldn’t have been more joyful last night. I’m not going to say “No We Can’t” because that implies that change cannot come, ever. If that is the case then what the hell are we all (including you) doing here blogging about progressive ideals for?

    I don’t find gay marriage to be the end-all of lesbian/gay rights. So I have mixed feelings about Prop 8 being passed. Of course I do not like the sentiment of inequality inherent in such an amendment, but this decision will be challenged at some date in the near future.

    So I am celebrating our new black president and looking for strategies to make all LGBTQ rights, not just marriage, possible.

  24. beka
    November 6, 2008 at 3:39 am

    Was it not promised that an Obama presidency would overturn DOMA? I pray that that and similar actions will finally quell the Christian Right, on this issue at least.

    And for all those proponents who justified it to themselves by saying marriage wasn’t a right, the title of Proposition 8 itself declared it was to eliminate the right to marriage. I do not understand how people can be so deliberately ignorant, and justify that hatred with ignorance.

  25. marilove
    November 6, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Oh, I am so sick to my stomach over this. I knew there was a chance it would pass, and I knew I would be upset, but I had no idea quite how upset I’d be. It doesn’t help that I am an Arizona native and resident. The state that I have loved for so long is losing me right now. At least California has some hope in the matter; I honestly don’t think Arizona does, at least not now.

    California is, too, a home state in my heart — I grew up literally on the AZ/Cali border (technically ON the Cali border, but because there was nothing around and AZ was a hop-skip-jump away, we went by AZ time…). It’s … a hard time for me right now.

    But you know what? We have our first African American president. Obama has given me HOPE.

    My convictions regarding gay (CIVIL!) rights has always been strong, but it seems now that they are even stronger. I am DETERMINED to be part of this fight.

    And no longer will I call it “gay rights” — from here on out, I will only address it as CIVIL RIGHTS, because that is what it is.

  26. Caroline
    November 6, 2008 at 11:17 am

    I’m heartbroken for the people of California right now. It’s ridiculous that so many people, whatever their personal beliefs may be, don’t realize that it is patently unamerican to deny people civil rights or write religious morality into the law. (And, frankly, it’s ridiculous that their personal beliefs are so hateful and ignorant. But, obviously, we don’t legislate based on that.) I’m straight, so as appalled as I am by this, I can’t know what it feels like to be the target of this particular hateful act, and I really sympathize with people who aren’t comforted by Obama’s victory in any way. I understand why people would want to give up on this country at this point. But I hope that they don’t have to.

    I moved to the Boston area a few months before the Goodridge decision came down, and I remember how thrilled I was sitting in my office reading that judgment. I remember seeing protesters outside City Hall outnumbered by happy couples, their friends, and total strangers who showed up to support them. I’ve had the good fortune to watch equal marriage go from a controversial new phenomenon to established law of the land–in five years, they haven’t even been able to get a constitutional amendment onto the ballot, and anti-marriage members of the state legislature have actually lost at the polls on this issue.

    Now, I’m sure that this little blue enclave isn’t much comfort to the thousands of people suffering from the ridiculous injustice of these decisions in California and across the rest of the country. The road should be easier. The fight should be fairer. But the longer that we go on, the harder that we struggle, the more we prove that justice and fairness and love–and the law–are on our side. The future belongs to us.

    I donated some money to No On Prop 8, but I feel like I could have given more. I won’t fall as short next time. To quote another pro-marriage Massachusetts resident, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

  27. Q Grrl
    November 6, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    “Lets not pretend this was something it wasn’t. This wasn’t a setback for some specific minority group, this was the failure of democracy. It was aimed at LGBTQ community, but it the end it was just their bad luck to be on the end of this shit this time around.”

    Hey William? Fuck off.

  28. November 6, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    There is a piece up today at the CA NOW blog by Meredith Patterson, “Prop. 8 Postmortem” that breaks down the current challenge to the passage of Prop. 8, the legal background for the challenge, and why it may work to preserve marriage equality in California.

  29. Lisa
    November 6, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    LauraB: I believe Connecticut can only ask the Con-Con question once every twenty years, so Question 1 failing is actually a huge deal – it means marriage equality is safe in CT for 20 years, which, given the demographic realities at hand, effectively means forever.

  30. lupe
    November 6, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Yesterday sucked for us gay people in an important way, yes. But some huge and wonderful things happened in America, and I can’t imagine letting that go.

    If the joy of electing an awesome president doesn’t override the bigotry of Prop 8, at least remember that on balance, Obama’s election may have done more to assure the future civil rights of our children, on a broad scale, than anything could have. Ginsberg, Stevens, and probably Breyer are going to retire from the Supreme Court. Obama will make sure that the most important court in the country will be filled with people who believe that we have constitutional and civil rights — all of us. The effect of these appointments will reverberate for generations to come.

    And seriously, this is a huge day in America. We elected a black president, after 200+ years of undermining the black community. That is huge. Absolutely, undeniably wonderful and huge.

    Proposition 8 is tragic and crushing, I can’t deny it, and no one should deny us the right to be sad about it. But it’s still a day to celebrate. At a minimum, as a celebration of someone else’s turn. Perhaps more, as a day that portends a brighter future for everyone.

  31. Karalora
    November 6, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    My mom voted in favor of Prop 8. In fact, she’s a member of the Mormon church. Normally we are able to keep our political differences out of our relationship and get along quite well, but I don’t know if I can anymore. I’m supposed to have dinner with her this Sunday, but I don’t know if I can eat a civil meal with someone who would so blithely vote to strip people of their human rights, because of arguments based on lies. I keep thinking that sooner or later, I’m going to have to make her choose between her reactionary politics and her friendship with me, her daughter. Maybe that’s not fair, but dammit, she’s just one person, and the people I know who will be hurt–denied the benefits of love and family–by Prop 8 are many. She helped to take the families that they wanted away from them; why should she get to have her family just the way she wants it?

  32. lupe
    November 6, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I did mean Souter.

  33. Q Grrl
    November 6, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    “If the joy of electing an awesome president doesn’t override the bigotry of Prop 8, at least remember that on balance, Obama’s election may have done more to assure the future civil rights of our children, on a broad scale, than anything could have.”

    Really? Because Obama has been very clear that he is anti-gay marriage and was vocally supportive of Prop 8 prior to the election. I’m thrilled to pieces that he’s our President-elect and what this represents to and for our nation. However, I’m not so naive as to think that he is pro-gay by ANY stretch of the imagination (His interview in April for The Advocate helps shine light on his personal/political beliefs).

  34. November 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I think your phrasing is off:

    No We Didn’t. (this time)

    Yes We Can.

  35. lupe
    November 6, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    First, Obama supports the repeal of DOMA, which is critical. So, even though he hasn’t explicitly supported gay marriage, he supports removing a critical barrier to gay marriage, and one on the federal level. If you currently enjoy civil unions or marriage equality on the state level, you have probably felt the massive chasm that your state can not fill. Obama’s viewpoint on this give us a much better chance of punching through the elusive federal blockades that McCain or Bush ever would have allowed.

    Second, liberal judges are more likely to support marriage equality than conservative judges. That’s true even if Obama selects those judges because he likes their more liberal views of the constitution as they affect racial equality, equality of the sexes, whatever. McCain would have dug us into a generations-long hole.

    So, yes. I do think there’s a reason for gays to rejoice in yesterday’s election, even while mourning the loss of marriage rights from Prop 8. Nothing erases the misery of Prop 8, but good things happened yesterday for everyone.

    You might disagree, and your opinion is just as valid. But that’s how I see it.

  36. lupe
    November 6, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Not to mention, Q grrl, Obama said he was against Prop 8. Proponents lied about his support for the measure.

  37. Thomas
    November 6, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with Qgrrl. Obama was not my first choice in the Dem field for a variety of reasons, and he’s a fairweather friend on GLBTQ issues. He made a tepid show of opposition to Prop 8, but he’s not really going to spend political capital to help queer folks achieve full legal equality.

    People expecting a social-issues progressive had better recalibrate their expectations. He’s the better alternative, and the competent public servant of the two offered. By a lot to a little. But if I were playing “build a President,” there’s a lot I’d change. Like hanging around with homobigots, and trying to appeal to Rick Warren’s congregants.

  38. Rigbee
    November 6, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I read a comment to a Prop 8 article in our local paper this morning. The commenter said that, as a gay Catholic, he was very sad that 8 had passed, as that meant his plans for being married in a big Catholic cathedral were ruined.

    That comment goes a long way toward explaining why 8 passed. You claim that others shouldn’t be allowed to force their opinions on you, while blithely doing that exact thing to those who disagree with you.

    It’s a personal issue. It’s a social issue. It’s a moral issue. And it’s not nearly as simple an issue as you may believe.

  39. November 6, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Thomas, you can call me a sell-out if you want, but right now, after all of this, I’m willing to settle for baby steps in the executive branch. We have the right to be critical, but at the same time, negating the good here is beyond even my level of cynicism. If Obama does something as inherently stupid as Clinton’s gaffes in his first term, then I’m willing to call him out and rip him a new one. Not before. (Might I remind you of FDR’s waffling over Jewish refugees from Europe, or JFK’s initial attitude towards civil rights organizing?)

    Which I suppose is a fundamental difference between your mode of activism and mine, and we won’t see eye to eye on it.

  40. November 6, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    The commenter said that, as a gay Catholic, he was very sad that 8 had passed, as that meant his plans for being married in a big Catholic cathedral were ruined.

    He was misinformed if he thought that same-sex marriage being legal meant that he would be able to get married in a Catholic church. He would first have to find such a church willing to marry him. Because they wouldn’t have to. They don’t have to marry anyone they don’t want to. I agree with you inasmuch that it was misinformation like this that harmed Prop 8.

    It’s a personal issue. It’s a social issue. It’s a moral issue. And it’s not nearly as simple an issue as you may believe.

    Yeah, except it really is though. The government discriminating against people is wrong. I may “personally” believe “morally” whatever I want, but that doesn’t give the government a right to discriminate against anyone based on it. Unless you think discrimination is a-okay, it really is that simple. And if you do think that, we have nothing to discuss at all.

  41. November 6, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I am so sorry to all of those families. I just finished blogging my thoughts on this, though not as eloquent at this. I have to have hope, though. I can’t believe that people will stay this hateful for long. I just can’t. Maybe I’m just naive.

  42. Corey
    November 7, 2008 at 5:17 am

    If prop 8 had passed most of you wouldn’t give a fuck about the rest of the country. “Well, we got what we wanted…just come on over here instead!” Fuck that. Selective activism is not activism, and being pissed because only you want something doesn’t do anyone any good.

    What about those in AZ or FL? Do you feel sorry for them too? You should – and especially those who live in states who DON’T EVEN GET AN OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE ABOUT IT.

    I can only feel so much compassion towards California – stop whining and do something about it. Act as if the election were next week and keep that mentality until you get what you want.

    But don’t feel too upset – at least it won’t take you 389 years (and counting) for your equality.

  43. Thomas
    November 7, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Bene, I didn’t call you a sellout, and didn’t mean to imply it. I’m just expressing my deep disappointment with Prop 8, and my doubts about how much we should expect from Obama, in solidarity with a lot of people that I care a whole lot about.

    We’ll get there. But it’s painful to watch people treated as second-class citizens while het folks get over our stupid selfish issues. It’s been forty years since Stonewall. Why aren’t we there yet?

  44. Thomas
    November 7, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Corey, there’s no selective activism here. Many of us, myself included, have greeted each positive step with “three down, forty-seven to go.” And I followed all the ballot initiatives closely. And I’ll keep working on my state, NY, and my original state, CT, did the right thing. But getting the populous states is how we get the country around, how it becomes commonplace in the culture, how we make equality conventional wisdom so the more recalcitrant parts of the countyr come around. And California was the only place where marriage equality was a reality and got clawed back. Same sex couples could get a marriage license on Monday, but not on Wednesday. That’s different.

    We have to get the big, populous, blue states first and them make equality a reality nationwide. New England and the West Coast. And that was going pretty well. Until Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got black tape on my ring finger and I’ll be speaking with my state legislators (I know them personally) about making marriage equality a reality in my state. That’s what I’m doing. What are you doing?

  45. angela
    November 7, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I’m the commenter whose comment got erased last night. I’m kind of surprised no one else has made the comment in the interim, though. But since no one has, and since none of the moderators here seem to have seen fit to ask this question, I’m back to ask it again: did anyone at Feministe take exception to this blogger quoting Rudyard Kipling, whom he admitted was a racist, in talking about this issue? During a week when our newly-elected Black president is increasingly the subject of violent threats from the right, and when Black people all over the country are the subject of intense and unfair scrutiny from the likes of Dan Savage for some alleged race-wide homophobia, quoting a colonialist bigot seems tacky, at BEST. Here’s hoping I make it through the moderation queue this time; I would really like a response.

  46. Thomas
    November 7, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Angela, your point is well taken. Quoting Kipling at this moment, even while acknowledging his history, was (as you put it) “tacky at Best.”

    My apologies.

  47. William
    November 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Hey William? Fuck off.

    As your scintillating response was unfortunately light on the details of what exactly I said to piss you off, let me elaborate. Proposition 8 is just another in a long string oppressions and examples of overt hatred. On the 4th it was the GLBTQ community on the end of the ugly human urge to beat down anyone who shows any kind of difference. So no, I can’t get all warm and fuzzy about some marginal number of people being able to get just far enough past their racial hatred to vote for a black man against a pair of psychotics in desperate times. Thats doubly true when some of the same people who came out to make a statement about racial equality took that opportunity to negate the civil rights of another.

    So yeah, it was the GLBTQ community that was directly effected by proposition 8, but it was also an example of why letting people vote about who ought to be treated like human fucking beings is doomed to failure.

  48. November 7, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Thomas, thank you for the apology. I wanted to say, also, that I think the passing of Proposition 8 is atrocious, and it’s heartbreaking. That is an important point that I shouldn’t have left out.

  49. n11dz
    November 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Obama’s win is a huge stride for doing away with racism in the United States. There may have been some un-libertarian bills passed during the election, but with new executive leadership hopefully federal law will intervene and grant the groups of America that have been undermined a fair quality of life; why cannot we realize that we are all human beings longing to exist in a world where the minor details do not matter and the major issues are settled by a popular consensus? Mother Earth has a long way to go.
    God bless,
    Earth bless,
    Bless you.
    Regardless your affiliation.
    Peace & love: nadz.

  50. Shal
    November 8, 2008 at 3:21 am

    I have nothing else to say except that I am so overwhelmingly sad.

  51. Almay
    November 9, 2008 at 12:20 am

    I know that it is a crushing blow, but…did you really just compare the passing of this proposition to, among other things, Reconstruction and the Trail of Tears?

    And then quoted Kipling (even with the proviso that he was colonialist and racist, BUT-) right after that?

    I appreciate that you apologized for it, and respect that you left it up, but…whoa.

    I feel like there’s a dissonance there (that I’m not sure if I’m fully articulating).

  52. Thomas
    November 9, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Almay, I was listing the failures of the American political system to treat people as equals, not acts of violence (though the two often go together, and the anti-gay rhetoric of the last few years has accompanied increases in violence). In the history of the failure of the American political system to treat all people as equals, no list would be complete without Korematsu, and without Jackson’s decision to ignore the Supreme Court, which led to the Trail of Tears.

    No comparison is perfect, but Prop 8 shares features with
    Plessy, NINA laws, miscegination laws, Bowers v. Hardwick, and Buck v. Bell, IMO. Do you disagree?

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