In which I rant for a while

Before I say anything else, I wanted to mention that I was lucky enough to be a poll worker (as opposed to a pole worker) on Tuesday, and while I’m still exhausted, it was a wonderful experience.  Seeing my fellow citizens out and voting, and helping them with that process, was such a rewarding experience.  The end result, at a national level, was one I’m so grateful to have been able to take part in and to witness.

I don’t usually discuss politics on here, but as a Californian, I cannot in good conscience post without mentioning the shame of Prop 8’s passage.  That we have enshrined bigotry and hate, and used our state constitution as a shillelagh is a stain on our honor.   The idea of using a constitution to take rights away from our fellow human beings disgusts me.  I live in a neighborhood with many gay families, and the message that was sent to those families on Tuesday breaks my heart.  That people think they have a right to live without even acknowledging the existence of gay people is shameful, and that we squandered this opportunity to do the right thing and acknowledge that consenting adults have the right to marry whether we agree with them or not is disheartening in so, so many ways.

It can be hard to understand the irreparable harm done to others when we pretend that they don’t exist.  It’s not just that disagreement is expressed – when people refuse to acknowledge even the existence of gay families, that causes harm to those families.  I don’t have personal experience on that level, but I can tell you a little about being part of a mixed race family.  However much race might be a construct, the ramifications of our acknowledgement of race are very real.  I’ve seen this play out when my children become excited to see a family that looks like ours in a movie, or a toy that has tan skin.  You don’t quite realize how lonely it feels not to exist as part of mainstream American media until you see yourself reflected.

My children weren’t terribly cognizent of this election, but I can tell you this: it means something to them that the President-elect has skin that is the color of Daddy’s skin.  It means something that one of their associations with their father’s skin color will be a president rather than a statistic.  That someone like them, with a white mother, and an immigrant father of color, has reached the highest office in the land, is a symbol.

We offered that symbol to my children on Tuesday, and we took something huge away from other people.  I love my state dearly, but I cannot reconcile these two facts and I cannot help but feel shame that we didn’t take the rights of others seriously enough to protect them.

The last state constitution banning interracial marriage was in Alabama, and was finally removed in 2000, after voters repealed it.  The vote was split 59% to 41% in the year 2000.  41% of Alabama voters wanted to keep an unenforcable ban on interracial marriage on their books.  In the year 2000.

2000 is the year I got married.  My marriage was recognized in all fifty states, but it’s not something I can take for granted, since, after all, the last law refusing to recognize my marriage as valid was only overturned, by far too small a margin, when my marriage was five months old.  I am the direct beneficiary of the sacrifices of others, but the gains made are still new and apparently shakier than one would think.

My marriage is legal and recognized, but the marriages of my neighbors and friends are in peril.  Their loves, their lives may not change much, but their faith in us as a neighborhood, as a unified people, their feelings of acceptance, are in grave danger.  History asked something of us this election, and Californians turned their backs on history.  I’m sorry.

9 Responses to “In which I rant for a while”

  1. Emily Says:

    An eloquent and moving post; I agree with every word. I was so sad to see California following in my own state’s (Oregon’s) disgraceful footsteps of 2004. I know the tide is turning on this, but it’s happening discouragingly slowly. 😦

  2. Amanda Says:

    Well said, and I agree.

  3. the Lady Says:

    Oh God, me too. You said it so much better than I did. Half of California really pisses me off and breaks me heart for a bunch of citizens right now.

  4. orata Says:

    Thank you for this post–very well said, in a way that I hope allows those who supported Prop 8 to understand their biases and prejudices. When I found out the results, it really tempered my excitement about this election. Not sure what Obama’s stand on gay marriage is off the top of my head, but I remember being really disappointed with Biden’s response in the VP debates.

  5. Amanda Says:

    Your post made me cry – thank you! As someone who is in a long term same sex relationship, seeing support for families like mine means a lot. That your family and marriage is recognized and legitimized brings me joy (and that your children, and *all* children have such a role model in the White House!) and I know that some day we’ll be there too if we keep fighting. It’s astounding that interracial marriage was only recognized in Alabama in 2000! I hope with the help of allies such as yourself and other Californians who have expressed there disappointment at Prop 8’s passing, we will not have to wait as long.

    Unfortunately Barak Obama does not support gay marriage. He does support civil unions with the same legal rights and privileges for same sex couples. I hope he, and the rest of the country, can come to realize the difference between religious and civil marriage and recognize that affording same sex couples the right to a civil marriage is no threat to their “tradition.” I am fine with churches and temples and other religious institutions being able to decide who their faith allows to be married in the “eyes of god.” But in the eyes of the law and the government, we should all have that right.

    Thank you again for such a moving post. 🙂

  6. whitney Says:

    Yes. Yes yes yes.

  7. LizKnits Says:

    I am soooo with you! Very well said. I’m just hoping that the courts will recognize this as not just a minor change to the consitution (which allows for the majority vote) and will throw out the vote.

  8. marinade Says:

    Well put. I am right there with you. I wish I could have voted in California for that reason as I have many friends who are devastated by Prop 8. It kills me that not all the people I love are considered equal under our government. I live in a state where gay marriage isn’t legal either and I know it will be a long time before that happens. I can only hope that I will see these changes in my lifetime if not for me but for my children.

  9. merete Says:

    oh kristen, oh kristen. i think that prop 8 is the most horryfying thing ever. and sad to happen the same day as obama was elected.
    it is important for children to be recognized for who they and their ancestors are. i am glad that obama is just one more brick in a hopefully growing wall of acceptance. i am so totally blind in all those ways. but i asked a few friends some time ago if they ever had any people visiting who were black or of mixed races. and few people here have. also due to the fact that this is a very uni racial society. btw i cannot stand the word race- reminds me of breeding dogs or horses. but we need a language for expressing ourselves.

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