Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Reader's Choice #1: Proposition 8

Blog reader 'elisaana' had suggested I write about the fallout from CA's anti-gay Proposition 8 (she also suggested a post on the foreign policy of Obama, which I will get to later this week). Besides being obsessed with politics, I am also gay, so it would seem that this would be a topic I'd be heavily invested in, but I am not.

There are two reasons for that. The first is that as I follow the massive protests and boycotts and activism against the successful passage of Prop 8, the first thing I think of is... gee, where were all these people before the election? You know, when it mattered. Supporters of gay rights were too complacent going into the election (hey, it was California after all!) and they paid the price for it. It was a hard and nasty price for many gay couples and families, and they have my sympathy. Next time around-- and I hope folks in CA are preparing a ballot measure for next year, or some other avenue-- they will be better prepared. Just keep winning people to our side in the meantime.

And that brings me to reason number two. I am older now (is 29 'old'?) and therefore a bit more patient than many activists. Gay rights and equality will come, but it will not happen overnight. And we shouldn't expect it to, though that'd certainly be nice. Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus in 1955. It would be another 9 years before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law (and only then because LBJ had lots of political capital from the Kennedy assassination) and another year from there to get the Voting Rights Act signed. For those fighting for those rights, it was likely a long ten years. But they kept at it, and won (in spite of fierce opposition from the right which is whitewashed, pardon the pun, today). I'm not suggesting gay rights activists go the same route-- sit-ins, freedom rides, etc-- but understand changing hearts and minds takes years, not weeks.

It should be noted that, in CA, similar measures to Prop 8 have passed before, but with wider margins. Prop 8 barely squeaked by. If it was voted on today, a mere month later, I believe it would fail (again, because the pushback against came too late), and if voted on again in a year or two, I am sure it would be defeated. And then, after CA, the fight moves on to other states. And on and on.

What will be interesting to follow on a national level is what kind of leadership President Obama takes on this issue. His record on it has been encouraging, if somewhat wishy-washy. Whether he is willing to keep promises to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell (etc) is definitely something to keep an eye on. I definitely will be.

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