Saturday, August 09, 2008

Anticipating November

A couple weeks back, some Democratic Party volunteers were going door to door to collect voter registrations. I never re-registered since moving out of my parents house, as over the years it's never been a problem to drive the 5 or so minutes to my old polling place. But since I plan on being in another state when the election comes around, I wanted to make sure that I was registered absentee. I'm excited about the presidential election, but I hope it doesn't reflect poorly on me to admit that I'm just as excited, if not more excited, or maybe anxious is a better word, about defeating California's Proposition 8. It's been sort of a roller coaster ride since May when In Re Marriage Cases was decided and Prop 22 was struck down as unconstitutional by way of the equally landmark precedent that identified Sexual Orientation as a suspect class worthy of strict scrutiny.

Since then it's been an exciting (nerve wrecking?) series of victories and defeats for both sides of the battle, starting with same-sex marriage opponents getting enough signatures to place Prop 8 on the ballot. June 16th was a great day for California when the first marriages now legal under the ruling took place around the state. I had let myself get a bit excited hoping that Prop 8 might be taken off the ballot for being improperly written, but that attempt failed when the judges denied the motion unanimously. That disappointment however was turned around when Prop 8's ballot description was re-written to focus on the effect of the bill, and then later upheld in court when the proposition's backers sued to have the re-write reversed.

Pepper all of that with good news of opinion polls that show the majority of Californians narrowly rejecting the proposition, but temper that good news with the unfortunately true fact that same-sex marriage bans tend to poll smaller than they actually perform in the real polls, similar to what I've learned is called the "Bradley Effect," where prejudices simply tend to "come out" in the voting booth.

Even after all of this, I really am hopeful that we will defeat this measure as a people. The campaign to fight the bill has raised enormous funds, and our Governor has taken a strong stance against the proposition. The new wording that will appear on the ballot will remind people in the voting booth exactly what the effect and true motive of this proposition really is, and speaking of the voting booth, the polls should be filled with younger voters thanks to our fabulous presidential candidate, and younger voters overwhelmingly vote progressively in favor of equality.

On top of all that it feels like we're at a point where it's simply the right time for marriage equality to be affirmed by the people. I've always maintained (and still do) that matters of civil rights should not be decided by public opinion, which is why our system of legislature and courts exists as it does, but there's nothing to be done about it now, and I have to admit that I'm eager to see what the religious far-right's next move will be after marriage equality has been affirmed by the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and now the people as well. Maybe they'll finally explain just how traditional marriage is being "threatened" enough to warrant "protecting," or what such rhetoric really even means. Is a little substance so much to ask for?

It's going to be interesting for me to see how this proposition will come up in my family, if it comes up at all. There are some relatives who I feel might be voting in favor of it, and I know that all of my family cares deeply for me as I do for them, but I wonder how that conflict resolves itself in their minds (maybe it wasn't a conflict at all?), and I wonder how a discussion of that would play out.


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