Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes We Can!: The Election of Barack Obama

On Election Night President-elect Barack Obama accepted the mandate of the American people with his usual aplomb, addressing the crowds in Chicago's Grant Park with a stirring, classy acknowledgement of American ideals; yet whatever change was wrought on that extraordinary night must be tempered with the knowledge that a substantial minority of people in the most populous US state lost their civil rights on the same night when yet again an American electorate jazzed on change voted for it with one hand and for the same narrow-minded view of equality with the other...

Growing up gay means growing up aware that even second-class citizenship is a mirage in the distance, an illusory opportunity - but an opportunity nonetheless... All the legislation in the world - even if, by some miracle it should actually be enforced - doesn't make for equality all by itself; therefore, the same applies to state-sponsored discrimination. By voting Yes on Proposition 8 the voters of California haven't banned marriage equality but merely deferred it; oppose it though you might, it will one day happen - as it has already in Holland, Canada, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, and soon in Norway, whereas as recently as 2002 none of these countries did. How many more nations will have to come to the simple realization that equal rights mean equal opportunity for all before they all begin to? How many people will end up on the losing side of history because they were unable to comprehend that simple fact?

For my part, I believe the presidency of Barack Obama will render greater change for good than the previous administration did for evil - maybe even undo what hatred and bigotry Karl Rove's neoconservative agenda has wrought by poisoning the wells of people's minds with fear. If I may paraphrase the President-elect's own words, we can always hope... Yes we can. Allowing marriage equality doesn't weaken marriage or family but strengthens it; nor does allowing it make it mandatory - as a simple majority of California voters seems to believe - any more than passing hateful propositions will undo the heartfelt vows of the 16,000 gay couples whose California marriages have now been rendered null and void.
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