Friday, November 07, 2008

It Was The Best Of Times...

A friend of mine posted this on a Yahoo! Group we both participate in:

"OK, let me state for the record that I voted for John McCain because I thought and still believe that he was better qualified. I don’t think that my vote makes me a racist (Besides, most of you who know me, know better than that)."

I don't believe for a moment that everyone who voted for McCain is a racist. I do believe though that, in general, the concept of and quest for equality for all Americans is further down McCain voters "to do" list than I am comfortable with.

I could never vote for any candidate that stood opposed to full equality for lesbian and gay Americans in committed relationships. So long as the Republican party (or any party) bases that intolerant and discriminatory aspect of it's political platform on evangelical religious doctrine, I will never understand how anyone professing commitment to human rights could vote for them.

Let me ask a question of McCain voters: If everything else about John McCain's campaign remained the same with the following exception; instead of opposing "gay marriage" the Republican party and its candidate opposed the right of an African-American to marry a Caucasian, would YOU still have voted for McCain?

I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I believed that our nation was finally going to see someone from the majority binary gender ascend to the highest office in the land. I believed that she was imminently qualified and ready for the job. Yet, despite my dedication to Hillary, I told anyone who would listen that our nation was so very fortunate to have (in my opinion) at least two highly qualified and visionary candidates running to be President of The United States of America.

I voted proudly and enthusiastically for Barack Hussein Obama because I believe he was the most qualified candidate. I believe his steadiness, good judgment, even-temper and impressive intellect are exactly what this country and the world desperately need in order to recover from past eight disastrous years.

I've waited almost 40 years for someone to truly inspire me to believe that America is still a place where hope trumps fear, where equality overcomes discrimination and intolerance, where intellectual curiosity, scientific knowledge and competence takes precedence over ignorance, authoritarianism and arch-conservative religious doctrine. To some degree, the wait ended Tuesday night.

To paraphrase the words of Michelle Obama, I have never been more proud to be an American than I was on November 4th. I was not, however, as proud as I had hoped to be.

On the same night that millions of progressive minded Californians helped elect Barack Obama President, a majority of those same Californians voted to take away the existing rights of their lesbian and gay neighbors.

It hurts to realize that while I was casting my vote for Barack Obama in Oregon, a majority of African-American and Hispanic voters down the coast in California were saying "yes" not only to discrimination, but "yes" to the removal of existing rights from Americans like me.

70% of African-Americans voted to ban "gay marriage"
53% of Hispanics voted to ban "gay marriage"

The irony is immobilizing: The inspiration and hope that drove so many minorities (and majorities) to the polls to vote for Barack Obama also (temporarily) doomed existing marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians.

An America that takes an historic step forward while simultaneously stepping on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is standing tall on a shaky foundation. We have much work to do.

On election night Barack Obama said;

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, GAY, STRAIGHT, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

Cher (my partner of 26 years) and I remain proud of our vote for President-Elect Obama. We believe that America's best days lie ahead. We believe in his dedication and commitment to returning America to a place where its better angels speak louder than the demons of hate, prejudice, self-righteousness, greed and imperialism.

We believe. We believe as much as second-class citizens, in second class relationships with second class families can believe.

We shall overcome.


whatsername said...

The irony is immobilizing: The inspiration and hope that drove so many minorities (and majorities) to the polls to vote for Barack Obama also (temporarily) doomed existing marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians.

Yes but the sad reality is that Obama ran a much better campaign than the Equality Campaign. :\

Unknown said...

I'm a white queer trans woman who also voted for Obama, and I'm also saddened by the prop 8 vote, as well as the passage of prop 2 in Florida and a number of other anti-gay props in the US. My initial reaction was similar to yours - to blame it all on black and hispanic people. Then I did some reading around the blogosphere, including the writing of black women, including black queer women.

I ask you to consider the following:

1) 47% of white voters voted yes on 8. Why are you giving them a pass? Why are you holding only those with brown or black skin responsible? Whites make up 85% of California's population - that's a lot of white people voting to take away rights of lgbt people.

2) Is it possible that, maybe, membership in fundamentalist Christian churches, including Baptist churches, is a larger factor than race in determining who voted for prop 8?

3) yes on 8 was created and bankrolled by the Morman Church, which I do believe is overwhelmingly white and hardly known for any belief in racial equality. A lot of white people funded this thing.

3a) the yes on 8 people did a great deal of outreach to Christians of color. The yes on 8 people may not be interested in racial equality, but they sure do know how to cynically "reach out" to people of color when it suits their purposes. They also know how to misrepresent the impact of prop 8, deceiving people into believing that it is a very narrow thing ("they can still get civil unions" and similar bullshit) while hiding their true intentions, which are much more far-reaching. Someone who's sitting on the fence could be induced to vote for the prop by this mis-information, whereas they may have voted against it if they were aware of the yes on 8 people's far-reaching intentions (preventing hospital visits, invalidating wills, etc).

4) The no on 8 campaign was driven largely by mainstream, white-majority LG-pseudo-B-pseudo-T groups.

4a) The no on 8 people did very little outreach to people of color, until the last few days before the election. What does that say about their (our, really) racism? That we white queer people are willing to hobble our efforts because we are too uncomfortable with people of color to do outreach in their communities, or to listen to the voices of queer people of color?

I am not absolving people who voted for the prop. I hold *everyone* who voted for the prop - regardless of race - responsible for legislating hatred. I do not think it is fair to single out people of color when the majority of people who voted for the prop are white.

Please read this post from Racialicious, the comments on Dan Savage's post (the very first comment is regarding the Morman involvment), and the comments onthis post from Angry Black Woman, particulary this comment from Maggie:

1. “Why do African Americans hate us?”

Has it occurred to you that POC and queer are not diametrically opposed labels? That there are queer men and women who are also African American? ...