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.