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Friday, November 05, 2004

Who knew it'd be the issue of our times?

I know I'm blogging the hell out of the fact that gay marriage swung this election, but I think it's critical that we all get a grip. There's an interesting article today in Salon about how Gavin Newsome, the mayor San Franscisco, is catching a lot of heat for Kerry's loss. Okay, everyone who thinks this, get a grip.

Before that Valentine's Day when Newsome ordered the court to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, the vast majority of Americans were against gay marriage. But obviously a lot of them were against it out of ignorance--they had no idea what gay marriage would "look" like. The parade of happy couples pouring out of the courthouse and the parade of supporters with signs in front of the courthouse starting that day and continuing for days on people's TVs and newspapers gave people an image to define gay marriage, and that image wasn't really that different from their own marriages. And the tide of opinion began to change. You saw the shift in the polls, which is actually pretty amazing since it's usually harder to change a hard prejudice more than any other type of opinion.

The Democrats dropped the racist vote 40 years ago and we have still been paying the price for that. Johnson gave up the racist vote because it was the right thing to do, and I don't think any of us would change that even though it means we'd probably still be winning elections as racist voters still outnumber black voters. But in the long term, it's working out really well politically. (Of course, even if it didn't work out politically, we still needed that civil rights bill, but politics is what I'm talking about here.) Now the Republicans are in the uncomfortable position of trying to make the racist faction of their party happy while also trying to flatter those who consider themselves non-racist and trying to pick up black voters. They are juggling fairly well, but only because the media helps them out so much. If the Democrats tried to pull that off, I doubt they would get a pass.

The lesson of all this is it's beside the point to cater to the homophobes to get votes. First of all, if we can't show leadership on this issue as a party, then we won't be able to imbue our candidates with the leadership they need to appeal to voters. Second, the Republicans just made a push for the homophobic vote and they vaccumed it up like they vaccumed up the racist vote a generation ago. They did us a favor. As homophobia becomes a more and more extreme position, they will have to do more and more work making the homophobes happy while trying to put on a mainstream face.

By the way, am I the only one who didn't fucking see what was going on? How could I not have noticed that Rove arranged it to have anti-gay marriage bills in so many swing states? That was the trick up his sleeve he was bragging about. That was the October surprise. Which means that Dick Cheney really did sell his daughter up the river for political gain. While they pretended to run on a split ticket, one pro and one anti gay marriage, they were actually relying on the anti-gay marriage vote. Fuck the daughter, this is family values!

Edited to add: Take a gander at this. I think it's indulgent to pretend that we aren't fighting the same battle over and over and over again in this country.

24 Comments:

Blogger JM said...

I'm gay, I live in the SF Bay Area, and I admit to being so upset and angry that I originally thought nasty things about Gavin Newsome...because Jeebus, there are so freaking more important things _right now_ than whether me and my (imaginary) partner have all our papers in a row, or that my partnered friends do. Of _course_ we'd like recognition, protection, etc but I didn't think this was the time to do it, specifically because it is a polarizing issue and I didn't think the country could afford to be polarized. But I got a grip on my own (even before the directive from you! :)) and realized that all of my thoughts were insane. Now I'm just back to being mad, and I absolutely agree with your point about the Republicans now having nowhere to go but further right.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger Earnest said...

Of course we're still fighting that same battle. In high school, we spent an entire semester on the Civil War and Reconstruction, my teacher explaining that you can't understand anything going on in America today unless you understand that. Since then, that time period has been one of my major interests because I've seen time and time again that my teacher was right.

I don't often invite you to come to my site, but I want you to invite you to contribute to the dialogue that Slate is having, Why Americans Hate Democrats. Of course, we won't be on Slate, but I'm inviting all of my Blogging friends to put together their own posts on the subject. I think it's a worthwhile discussion.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger mythago said...

Having one's partner be 'imaginary' makes it a lot easier to not give a rip about having the right to marry just yet, doesn't it?

11/05/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

I think overall I've touched on it these past couple of days. I don't think people hate the Democrats, except the Republicans. And Republicans hate Democrats because their leadership constantly drills it into their heads that being a Democrat is faggoty and traitorous. Not much we can do about that--they aren't about to give up demonizing Democrats.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger JM said...

mythago -- no, it doesn't. My partnered friends and I were having this discussion _together_ and none of them felt that we were as bad as Them for not wanting it to be The Issue of This Election. There are a hell of a lot more things I want more for this country right now...and there are a hell of a lot more things I need right now than a partner, so now I'm damned by the conservatives for being gay, and damned by gays/gay-friendly people for not being gay enough. That's just great. So glad I joined the dialogue.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger Earnest said...

Well, that's the thing Amanda. I used to always tell Ross that I think Democrats think Republicans are evil while Republicans just think Democrats are wrong. There's no reason middle America should vote Republican except that Democrats increasingly don't really care about understanding or appealing to them. It's not that Democrats are too smart or nuanced for middle America-- it's that they are irrelevant.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger Anne said...

How could I not have noticed that Rove arranged it to have anti-gay marriage bills in so many swing states?I realized it about a week ago, in the middle of the night.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Earnest, I don't think Middle Americans are a monolith. 40% of Texans voted for Kerry. If the Democrats start doing what the Republicans do and treat us like a monolith, that will just drive turnout even lower.

11/05/2004

 
Blogger Lanoire said...

Amanda, I didn't see the gay marriage thing coming either. You're absolutely right: it was the October surprise. It's a brilliant sort of surprise: the Kerry campaign couldn't possibly have countered it without compromising their principles. They would have had to water down their stance and lose some of their base.

I think we were all--probably including Kerry and Edwards--underestimating the sheer level of hatred and fear that gay marriage arouses in lots of people, and the number of people who think like that. We gave our fellow citizens too much benefit of the doubt with regards to rationality and moderation. But now we know exactly how much work we've got to do.

11/05/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I must say that I am so weary of hearing that "the homos" lost the election for us. "Newsome shouldn't have made that marriage equality stand so close to an election."

When is the right time to make a stand for equal rights then? Never? I am sorry, but it was the right time. Civil rights should never ever be put on the back burner. Millions of people got to see that the gay marriages in SF did not bring down the wrath of god, and that the people getting married were not demons, but regular folks. I like to think that opened a lot of minds in the middle states.
The results of this election show that there is still much work to do to get people to realize that gay folks are just as deserving of equal protection under the law as straight folks. We are here, we are Americans,we pay taxes, we die for our country, and it is high time we got the same protections as everyone else, if not "marriage" then through civil unions. My 2 cents.

spot

11/06/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be Newsom (no "e"). Hadn't had my coffe yet.

sorry

spot

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