Thursday, November 6, 2008

Late-Breaking News: Why Some Americans Aren't Celebrating

Just seeing Shaun Jacob Halper’s article “Why Some Americans Don’t Have a Reason to Celebrate” as I do a final sweep of news sites today ( Key excerpts:

Sorry to be the buzz-kill at the liberal victory-party, but this election has been a historic nightmare for millions of gay Americans. In Florida, Arizona, and California propositions have been passed to amend state constitutions, permanently enshrining second-class citizenship into law. America has taken a tremendous step backward -- actively revoking rights granted to citizens by state constitutions -- though you'd never know it from most of the punditry and pontificating.

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To be sure, this is not the media's fault. But its reticence on the uneven nature of American progress is strikingly naive and delusional, especially given the overwhelming--though not singularly determinative--role that African-Americans played in supporting Prop 8 and denying other Americans their civil rights. While seventy percent of self-identified gays and lesbians supported the first African-American presidential candidate (according to the exit poll reported by CNN), seventy percent of African American voters approved Prop 8, compared to 53% of Latino voters, 49% of white voters, and 49% of Asian voters.

The Obama victory was undoubtedly historic and groundbreaking, but it has come at a price: the aggrandizement and intensification of hostility between Blacks and gays. The irony is as ugly as it is heartbreaking. The betrayal gays feel can be summed up pithily: how is the outlawing of same sex marriage any different from the anti-miscegenation laws of segregation? Some may point to religious values as the discriminating factor, but "Christian values" were used to justify anti-miscegenation just as they are now used to justify the revoking of same-sex marriage. Hiding behind the Church, then and now, does not absolve anyone of their complicity in discrimination.

But the failure to defeat Prop 8 does not lie with the Black community or any other minority. It is the gay community who has failed to build coalitions with other groups. Wake-up call to gay leadership: We must form institutional alliances with other minority communities and start supporting each others interests. We are not going to see these groups support our right to marry if we do not make an active effort to support them as well.

Yep. Lots of pain out there. And I hope somebody’s listening. If not, it’s going to erupt very quickly into some ugly problems for this new administration—as its originators in the religious and political right intend for it to do.