Thursday, November 13, 2008

O, California...

I was born and raised in California and it has always struck me as a legislatively bizarre place. It can be the first state to pass legislation that, say, bans cigarette smoking in restaurants and bars and it can be the first state to make English its "official language." It's a state that has nurtured San Francisco and Orange County. It produced Jerry Brown and Richard Nixon.

Sometimes California makes me proud, for instance when its Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage as a right of all citizens, and sometimes it makes me very, very disgusted. Right now I'm disgusted.

I know that people I'm related to, who shall remain unnamed, voted for Proposition 8 and I don't understand them. Besides wondering how the personal lives of people they don't even know could possibly affect them, I'm stunned at their willingness to alter the California consitution, eliminating a right that had been granted. Changes to constitutions usually broaden people's rights; I don't know if a change to an American constitution has ever limited them.

I'm also disgusted by the media framing this as a black-white issue. While African American voters' support of Proposition 8 was important (about 70% voted yes on it), they weren't nearly as important as Christian voters who are a much larger bloc and two thirds of whom voted to limit constitutional rights. African Americans only made up about 10% of the voting population in the California election, but Christians made up nearly 25%. (By the way, only ten percent of voters with no religious affiliation supported 8, so hooray for atheists!) In fact, the biggest voting bloc responsible for passing this legislation was white Republicans who favored it by a ratio of more than 4 to 1. Republican party members made up nearly a third of votes.

This is not a black-people-versus-white homosexuals dynamic. There weren't enough black voters to control this one and they certainly weren't behind the big bucks. That would be the white Christians. It's true that more African American voters came out to the polls this year, but more significantly, more Christian voters, many of whom happened to be black and Hispanic, but most of whom were white, cast their ballots in favor of Proposition 8.

I guess it was just too soon for California to see the light. I believe they eventually will, but by then they'll have $%^-ed up their constitution. Most of the people in my family are solidly left of center, politically, but on this proposition, certain members voted to the right of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yeah.

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