Bittersweet election for opponents of Prop 8

In last week’s election in California, Proposition 8, a measure to reverse the right of same-sex couples to marry (a right that had been granted them by the State Supreme Court in May with a 4-to-3 vote), passed 52% to 48%.  An interesting wrinkle here is that, according to exit polls, Black voters came out in favor of the proposition more than any other voting group, by a 70/30 split.  In an election year when as many as 90% of Black voters supported Obama and the Democrats, a large majority of them also voted to take away a right that had been granted same-sex couples in their state.  (In all fairness, Obama voiced opposition to Prop 8 as well, though that was widely considered to be a political move.)  Many of the articles I’ve read on this topic point to churches and religious groups as key influencers on this vote that drove many to vote the way they did.  No matter, it strikes me as odd that so many people care so much about the behavior of others.  Has there ever been an initiative on a ballot that contained so much hatred?  A vote in favor of Prop 8 is a vote that same sex couples SHOULD NOT have the right to marry, a right that had already been granted.  The only rational reason I can think of for someone to feel this way stem from fundamental religious beliefs or severe homophobia.  Though even in the case of the homophobic voter, I have a hard time envisioning why they would want to strip the rights from this group that scares them so.  Keith Olberman gives a particularly poignant op-ed on this topic comparing it with slavery, during which rights were stripped from fellow human beings.  In this case, we’re repeating the exact same injustices, except the rights are being stripped because of their behavior or lifestyle rather than the color of their skin.  Is being gay legal?  If so, then gay people deserve the same rights as everyone else.  Exerting control over who has the right to marry and who doesn’t seems to me to be a gross merger of church and state and a bastardization of one of the fundamental principles on which this country was founded.

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By Josh Guttman

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