Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Happy, Sad

It was a beautiful night for a few minutes there. Shar and I were sitting on the couch, drinking red wine and watching reruns of Tina Fey do Sarah Palin on SNL (since I'd never seen any of her parodies) when all of a sudden Jackie was on the phone, telling us that Obama had WON. We flipped over to CNN and there it was, the 270+ electoral college votes that he needed, not to mention big numbers on the popular vote. We couldn't believe it.

The boys were running around whooping with us, and for the first time we could tell them to look at the TV and see a president who looked just like them. Fireworks were going off above the trees on the next blocks, cars were honking up and down Fruitvale. My sister in suburban Minneapolis was shrieking with joy out on her front lawn, even if all her (mostly Republican) neighbors were inside with their curtains drawn. There were the Obama and Biden families on the stage, black and white, trading hugs. The President-elect acknowledged from the podium in Grant Park that it was all kinds of people, all colors, "gay and straight" that put him there. I remember being in the Castro during Clinton's first acceptance speech when he actually mentioned AIDS, something that Reagan and Bush Sr. had hardly ever done through 12 years of a raging epidemic. I never thought I'd hear a President mention gay people as just one part of his America-wide constituency, much less as part of a momentous acceptance speech.

So it was a very uplifting 20 minutes. Until the results starting coming in for Prop. 8. A lot has been said already, and I'm not interested in repeating blame or finger-pointing. It's going back, again, to the courts, where it should have stayed--since it's very, very rare that the popular vote ever enacts real boundary-breaking change. (Votes for women? Ending segregation? Legal abortion? Left to the popular vote, would we have any of these now? Maybe, but it would have taken a much, much, much longer time. If ever.)

When I was in college, several social/dining clubs on campus (part of a system to which the majority of jrs and srs belonged; the university didn't have facilities to feed these students otherwise) were still all-male, even though the university had been co-ed for nearly 20 years. It took a long, arduous legal case, brought by a student who had long since graduated, for the NJ Supreme Court to finally rule that the clubs had to go co-ed. I remember talking to a friend of mine, a member of one of the clubs in question, before the ruling. He wasn't sexist, he insisted, he and his fellow members just liked things the way they were.

Life in Conn. and Mass. hasn't changed for straight people now that gay marriage is legal there, and it wouldn't in California, either. I am sickened at how much money came into this state from other places, expressly to deprive us of our legal and court-mandated rights and freedoms. I am heartbroken for all of the people I know who have worked so tirelessly on this issue, for years and years, working to open people's hearts and minds all across the state. Obviously, there is still more work to be done, especially out in rural communities in the Central Valley and around LA. How many times does this issue have to go to court? How many times do we--straight, gay, bi--have to fight for recognition of all our unions, not marriage for some and second-class, limited privileges and invisibility for others? How many times can our marriages disappear overnight?

1 comment:

k. said...

Well said.