The Good

President Obama.  Of course.

The Democrats now have 56 seats in the Senate. Four seats are still undecided, according to CNN, but it looks like they’re all going to go Republican.  Our best shot to pick up one last seat is Al Franken in Minnesota — who, with supposedly 100% of the vote counted, is less than 600 votes behind.

The Democrats now have 252 seats in the House, which is a 16 seat gain.  Ten seats are still undecided.

Democrats have a majority in the NY State Senate for the first time since the New Deal. Wow.  Do you mean that we might actually get some shit done?

Kay Hagan got Elizabeth Dole out of office. Gotta love that.

The South Dakota abortion ban, Measure 11, was decisively knocked down by a 10 point margin. A huge congrats to all of my friends at SD Healthy Families!

Amendment 48, the so-called Human Life Amendment, was shot down by remarkable margins, with 73% voting No.

It looks like California has shot down Prop 4, the anti-abortion parental notification initiative, with 95% of the vote in and 52% voting No.

Michigan has voted to allow stem-cell research and possession of medical marijuana.

Anti-immigrant initiative Measure 58 was shot down in Oregon.

The Bad

Amendment 2 in Florida, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, passed.

Proposition 102 in Arizona, also banning gay marriage, also passed.

Arkansas Initiative 1, which bans adoption for unmarried couples, passed. This initiative is clearly anti-gay, but it also denies adoption rights to unmarried straight couples and could affect single people as well.

Nebraska Initiative 424 passed, and bans affirmative action.

San Francisco’s Measure K was shot down. Measure K would have decriminalized prostitution in the area, and is a controversial proposal among feminists.  I believe that it would have made the jobs and lives of many sex workers much safer, and therefore I supported it and mark its defeat as a definite Bad.

The Downright Ugly

Proposition 8.

Yesterday, I really did have good feelings about Proposition 8.  I knew that out of the four initiatives that I most cared about — Amendment 48, Measure 11, Prop 8 and Prop 4 — the likelihood was that we would lose at least one.  All were horrible, but if I had to pick one to pass both in terms of predictions and hopes, my money was on Prop 4.  Prop 4 was an atrocious, harmful piece of legislation, and I’m so happy to have seen it failed.  But in all, I think it would have done the least damage.  And it seemed to be to be ambiguous enough that people might have voted Yes.  I couldn’t disagree with a Yes vote any more, but at least I understand the ignorance behind it.  I get a Yes vote on 4.

This, I do not understand.

Proposition 8 winning is downright ugly as opposed to just bad for many reasons.  For a start, it’s in California.  California is supposed to be one of our most liberal states.  It’s supposed to help set the pace for the rest of the nation.  California voting Yes on Prop 8 says horrible things about where the fight for LGBT equality is headed in this country.  And it’s much, much worse than the same-sex marriage bans in Florida and Arizona, and not only because it was less expected — but because same-sex marriage was already legal in California.

California voters didn’t just cast their ballots to deny rights to their fellow citizens.  That would have been bad enough.  California voters cast ballots to take rights away.

I don’t understand how this could have happened.  How can you vote to revoke the rights that people already have?  How could you do it in such large numbers?  How could it happen in California, of all places?  And with hindsight being twenty-twenty, I’m kicking myself.  What the hell was I doing phone-banking for Obama?  The man won by a monumental landslide.  Why didn’t I give my time to Prop 8 instead?  Why was I so wrongly comfortable?  How did we let them win?

I don’t know the answers to those questions.  And I feel physically ill looking at pictures of “Yes on 8″ supporters celebrating.  HOORAY, we took away the rights of our neighbors!, they must be saying.  HOORAY, we officially got the state to recognize how morally superior our choices and biological inclinations are regarding who to fuck and who to love.  HOORAY, we’re a bunch of fucking bigots who don’t deserve the rights we would take from other people.  LOOK AT US, we’re ignorant, selfish jackasses with copious amounts of  hate in our hearts.

Please, do look at them.  Because they must tell us something about our country and ourselves.  Just as it’s important to remember that electing a Black president is not the end of racism in this country, it’s important to remember how far we have to go when a country that elects a Black president would also deny basic rights to its LGBT citizens, even in some of its most liberal pockets.

Granted, the final results still haven’t been called.  And opponents think that defeating Prop 8 is still somewhat possible. I hope they’re right.  But even if they are, the fact that this is so close is devastating, repulsive, and ought to be truly eye-opening.  It puts a profound damper on this otherwise monumental victory.

I’m sure that I’ve left some news of various initiatives and candidate wins and losses out.  Feel free to leave extra info in the comments.

cross-posted at Feministe

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{ 21 comments }

1 Andrea November 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

As a brand new Californian as of 6 months ago, it was a shocker to see Prop 8 pass. But if you read the news here, it’s not really that surprising. The Mormon church bankrolled the massive YES campaign. Polling is also showing that the African American voters, who showed up in large numbers to support Obama, were a major factor in Prop 8′s passage. So this shows us we still have far to go.

I am trying to shake off the feeling that I am cursed, since I moved here from Ohio – a state that passed a similar ban in the last presidential election.

2 Melissa November 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm

I agree, this is really dissappointing. There is a lot of work to do. I would have expected something like this here in Texas, but not California. I really thought we had it there…

3 Brinstar November 5, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I’m absolutely gutted about Prop 8.

4 whatsername November 5, 2008 at 7:52 pm

I’m with you on every point. As much as I hate to admit it, I would have given them 4 if we could have gotten 8. :(

5 SunlessNick November 5, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Good summary.

6 Wendy November 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm

I am very disappointed in the voters of California. I live in Shasta County and was appalled that they voted nearly 70% for this hateful Proposition…I told my husband, I think I’m living in the wrong county. The last time this passed, the State Supreme Court found it unconstitutional…I can only hope it will be appealed AGAIN and AGAIN overturned. Why it was allowed to be once again put to vote is beyond me.

7 Buck McGee November 5, 2008 at 9:06 pm
8 Melinda November 5, 2008 at 10:49 pm

whatsername,

I agree with you that 8 is disappointing, but I cannot agree that Prop 8 not passing would be worth having Prop 4 pass. While they both involve personal rights, 4 affects the health and lives of women, whereas same-sex marriage, while most definitely important in legal rights and social recognition, is not an issue of life and death.

9 Marissa November 6, 2008 at 12:03 am

Like Melinda just said, prop 4 was a matter of life and death. I am absolutely heartsick that prop 8 passed and I can hardly be excited about Obama’s victory with the many leaps we took backwards on prop 8. But despite that, I’m really shocked that you and others are downplaying the gravity of prop 4. Taking away civil rights is horrible and atrocious and so many other terrible things I cannot begin to describe. But prop 4 put teenage girls’ very LIVES at risk…

10 Cara November 6, 2008 at 12:17 am

Marissa and Melinda — I believe that Prop 8 puts more lives at risk. Just look at health care alone. How many teen girls die are are injured every year in the U.S. because of a lack of access to abortion? Too many, certainly — but still a very small number. Those girls should be safe and there’s no excuse for them not to be. However, how many Americans die or face health problems because they don’t have health insurance? How many people could get health insurance through their partner’s job if they had the right to get married. Straight people who are dedicated to each other still get married all the time because they need health benefits.

And as I said in the post, there is the simple aspect that I understand why one would vote Yes on 4. I think those reasons are ignorant, short-sighted, dangerous, paternalistic and even misogynistic. But I can understand much better how someone could be deluded into believing that Prop 4 would somehow protect their daughters than I can understand how someone might be deluded into believing that voting Yes on 8 would protect anyone or anything except bigotry.

11 Marissa November 6, 2008 at 12:33 am

Cara, you make a strong point about health insurance, I did not think of it from that angle. I guess I was assuming that domestic partnership would allow health insurance to carry over to the partner, but as we both know, domestic partnership/civil unions are NOT the same as marriage and workplaces or insurance companies or hospitals may very just ignore the civil union. I guess that I think it is probably best not to try to compare the gravity of the two issues as both have horrendous consequence, even while yes on 8 voters must have had awful intensions going into that voting booth. Like you, I cannot even fathom how one can justify voting to take away a civil right. We have such a long way to go and I feel so discouraged and alientated by my own state…

12 Cara November 6, 2008 at 12:37 am

I guess that I think it is probably best not to try to compare the gravity of the two issues as both have horrendous consequence

Agreed.

I’d also just like to add to my last comment, in case it’s not clear to anyone, that I certainly do not support a system whereby one has to do something like get married in order to find health insurance. Everyone should have access to health care, regardless of anything, including marital status. But this is, very unfortunately, the system we currently live in.

13 Paul November 6, 2008 at 6:59 am

There was a good if depressing article a few months back that talked about anti-sex worker prejudice amongst suburban voters – to these voters, female sex workers weren’t people, they were just “hookers” or “wh*res” – “Why the [expletive] should we be inclusive to hookers!” was one of the vox pops.

As for Prop 8 – all they have achieved is a postponement of the inevitible and will be remembered in the future as harshly as we remember James O. Eastland or Theodore Bilbo today.

14 Erika November 6, 2008 at 10:34 am

This post makes you my ‘Hero of the Day’. Thank you for articulating so well what I’m still too emotional to address re. Prop 8.

15 shaunna November 6, 2008 at 10:50 am

i’m most certainly disappointed that 8 passed… but it didn’t surprise me, with the large sums of money that were pouring into the Yes campaign.

(here’s a list of donors, http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pe2023SzWXxE8wYX5qWeoIw)

however, as the law took away an existing right i’m believe it will eventually wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court… and will be struck down. permanently… all across the land.

16 akeeyu November 6, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Prop 8 is making me sick to my stomach.

On the less vomit-making side, hey, we got Death with Dignity up here in Washington!

My father died in agony instead of dignity, (even with all the ‘benefits’ of modern pain control) so this makes me positively giddy for the future.

Also, apparently the same jackholes who oppose abortion can’t stand euthanasia, so the extra ‘fuck you’ to them is just a bonus, I guess. I was happy to see them pour millions of wasted dollars into this campaign.

17 Mickle November 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

“But I can understand much better how someone could be deluded into believing that Prop 4 would somehow protect their daughters than I can understand how someone might be deluded into believing that voting Yes on 8 would protect anyone or anything except bigotry.”

Because the “Yes on 8″ campaign was all about kids and evil liberal teachers teaching them about sex, not gay marriage. The ads pretty much only mentioned same-sex relationships in code or with regards to children being “exposed” to such things.

Not that I’m not extremely disappointed and initially shocked. But keep in mind that Prop 8 has passed in CA before – by a much wider margin – it was simply shot down by the courts. While it’s very NOT GOOD that it passed, and the possibility of overturning it doesn’t help anybody right now, there is hope for the future in the fact that even will all the money thrown at it and everything else that helped it get passed, an initiative that is prime pickings for using as an example of judges (supposedly) overstepping their bounds passed by such a narrow margin. Also cause for hope is the fact that the “Yes on 8″ campaign was (rightfully) scared to come clean about what the initiative was really about. A decently funded campaign that focuses on same sex couples and their families has a decent shot of overturning Prop 8.

The part that’s frustrating about 4 is that I’m pretty sure the margins on that one did not change in our favor. (Because yeah, they’ve tried that one before, too.)

18 Cat November 6, 2008 at 6:33 pm

First, I live in Georgia so if prop 8 had been on our ballot it would have passed by about 95%. I was stunned to see it pass in California though. I just thought the voters there had more sense and compassion.

Second, about the sex-worker thing. I don’t understand why feminist are against this proposal. Most sex workers are female, and if it was legal then those women would have more protection. It’s comparable to thinking if we outlaw abortion it will end, but we all know it will actually only move underground, and womens’ lives will be at risk.

19 Cara November 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Cat — I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the abortion/sex work comparison made with regards to legalization. Usually it’s made with regards to bodily choice (against those who do like to harass sex workers who go into the job willingly on supposed “feminist” grounds). But now that you’ve said it, it makes so much sense. Thanks.

20 Dee November 7, 2008 at 8:47 am

How can anyone have the audacity to take away someones rights? If it was just a question of whether or not they should be given a right to marry I may understand, slightly.

The Californian people voted to remove someones rights which were already in place. To give bigotry a home and let it fester in their hearts and minds.

In the hearts and minds of their children.

I also question why this went to vote.
To ask people to vote to give rights to a minority, a minority which is seen as less then second class citizens by some, is like asking people to vote on giving Bin Laden political asylum.

Human rights should not be debated and voted on, they should be granted without fanfare or question.

21 Sara B November 7, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Even though I live in MT I found the media’s treatment of Measure K greatly disheartening. A former prostitute and sex workers’ advocate was on CNN disclosing her own rape while working as a prostitute, and trying to explain that sex workers who are victims of violent crimes can’t risk going to the police, and all the reporter could be bothered to ask her is why “if she were so intelligent did she ever resort to selling her body,” because of course “intelligent” people never experience poverty, abuse, mental illness, or chemical dependency, or any other myriad circumstances that could force a person into such a desperate situation. At the very least I think the issue deserved a fair dialogue.

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