Monday, November 10, 2008

Ballot Initiative Update: California

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed suit to have the courts invalidate Prop 8 in California if indeed it passes after all the absentee and provisional ballots have been counted.

I think the thing that appalled me most was when I heard on Rachel Maddow's show that 7 out of 10 African Americans voted against it. OK, I'm lying, I'm appalled in every way that Californians thought it was okay to deny civil rights already accorded to a group of human beings.

It brings to mind a conversation I had the Friday before the 2006 election, in Baltimore, MD. I was having lunch with a group of people. We were all attending a seminar, and I was the only person from out of town, and the only white person at the table. The discussion was about the upcoming Senate race: Ben Cardin (D) vs Michael Steele (R). You can Google the race, but the bottom line is that Cardin is white, and Steele is black. They both held the "standard" right-left positions.

So the gentleman across the table from me explained that he was voting for Steele because Steele was black. I told him I believed that his voting for Steele because he was black, was as racist as if I voted for someone because he was white. Then, the woman to my right explained that she was voting for Steele because he was against abortion and gay marriage.

I almost lost my mind. I pointed out that she had a 19 year-old son, a high school dropout, who was in a gang. I pointed out the statistics on the number of young black men, in Baltimore, who were in jail, on probation or on parole. I asked her if it wasn't better to vote for someone who would fight for an increased minimum wage, and educational initiatives, and against the Iraq War -- things that would hopefully serve to get her son educated, gainfully employed, and keep him from getting conscripted or arrested and sent to jail. She felt, though, that a politician holding evangelical-type values was more important than anything else.

So I thought about that conversation when listening to the Maddow piece. She had a professor on from Princeton who pointed out that the arguments made against gay marriage were identical to those made against intermarriage a generation ago.

I wonder why some people believe that some forms of discrimination are all right, and others are not. My best friend is gay, and I have never understood why my late husband and I were automatically accorded rights that she and her partner of many years are automatically denied. Perhaps that lack of understanding is mine alone.