This past Tuesday was the US Federal Election, and I’ve never been so proud of our American neighbours, and simultaneously so very disappointed in California. Senator Barack Obama’s victory is a watershed moment in history – it marks the point where America has grown up enough to recognize that qualifications, ideals, and ideas mean more than the colour of one’s skin. I never, in my wildest imagination, dreamed I’d see the day that a person of colour would lead the USA. If I’d been awake when McCain conceded, I’d have been crying.
Sadly, many of those very same people who voted in a person of colour also voted to deny the right of marriage to same-sex couples. Bigotry is alive and well in the USA, only the prime target is gays and lesbians. It baffles me that one of the most forward thinking states in the union can persist in such medieval thinking. How does what another couple do affect your relationship? Right-wing traditionalists say that gays and lesbians can still have civil unions, as if that is equivalent, but the very fact that they want to set the word “marriage” aside from themselves means that they see special value in the term.
Not only does Proposition 8 ban new same-sex marriages, there’s a chance it puts existing ones at risk. California’s state attorney says they won’t be annulled, but legal challenges are still possible. Now, undoubtedly many of the people who voted for Proposition 8 were in mixed-race relationships. Until 1967, such marriages were also illegal. Imagine the uproar if we banned interracial marriage now. Furthermore, the special interest group the provided the bulk of the yes-on-8 funding was the bloody Mormons. A group of people who founded their own state because the federal government wouldn’t recognize their definition of marriage. The hypocrisy is beyond ridiculous.
So, bittersweet Tuesday – one step forward, one step back. In the grand scheme of things, I’ll take it . As I said before, 41 years ago interracial marriage was also illegal ; it’s just a matter of time ’til we push over this new barrier to real equality.
As for President Obama, I’m realistic enough to know that things won’t magically change when he takes the helm. Poor guy’s got the worst job in the world – he’s taking over a bankrupt nation that’s fighting two “wars”, and has the worst international credibility of its entire history. But with Obama I have hope that things can change. McCain would have guaranteed preservation of the status quo.