Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Finally!

Obama Elected

I'm so glad the election is over. After nearly 2 years of hearing about this presidential campaign, it's finally over. We're getting a new president. A smart, inspiring, reasonable, Democratic president. I'm so glad! I have so much more hope for our country now! I think our standing in world politics, our reliance on science and reason for policy decisions instead of religion and tradition, our dedication to the Constitution, and our civic progress will all improve under Obama!

And, though Obama has been reluctant to play the race card throughout his campaign, all the emotion that comes with the fact that he will be our first African American President has come pouring out in me and in many others now that he has won. To think that, if we were living 150 years ago in this country, he would probably be a slave. To think that, if we were living just ~40 years ago in some parts of our country, he would have been a second-class citizen, with all the discrimination and "separate-but-equal" treatment that comes with it. And come January 20, he will be our president. Seeing Jesse Jackson's tears of joy as he stood among the huge crowd at Grant Park nearly moved ME to tears. Free at last.

I did not vote for Obama just because he was black. And I don't think most voters did either. If Americans were going to vote for a candidate because he was black, they had their chance with Jesse Jackson in 1984, and Al Sharpton in 2000. No, I voted for Obama because I agree with his policies, his positions on the issues, and I admire his background in relying on intellect and reason and dedication to the constitution. But, all that said, for the rest of my life I am going to be able to say that I helped elect the first black President in U.S. history. And yeah, I'm pretty proud of that.

John McCain's concession speech was excellent. It reminded me that I really do like that guy. He's probably my favorite Republican politician. And, if he had been running his campaign supporting the same ideals he had espoused for much of his career, I think I would have felt more sympathetic to his cause. But his switch to the more conservative of the far right side of his party, his changing positions on issues (like the Bush tax cuts) where I agreed with his former position but not his latter one, and his choice of a right-wing veep candidate, all heralded his loss. Of course, a huge reason why the country voted as it did is due to the economic crisis, and there's plenty of blame to go around for that crisis amongst the Democrats, the Republicans, and Wall Street. McCain just happened to be running for the party with a sitting administration. Well, he's a good man and I know he has more good work to do in the Senate.

As for California, I'm mostly happy with the results of our ballot measures. I'm especially happy that both Prop 1A (the high speed rail initiative), and Measure R (the L.A. County public transit initiative) have passed. As a result of those, my city and state are going to get a new, expanded, modern transit system that will help give people more travel options, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce our emission of smog and greenhouse gases, and demonstrate California's leadership in civic progress. I already believed that California is a great state, but I now also believe that Los Angeles has a chance to become a great (not just big) metropolis! And with a Obama in the White House, and a hugely Democratic Congress, where Pelosi has hinted that she will try to make infrastructure funding a major part of the next stimulus package, I'm confident we'll actually get the federal fund matching we need to complete these projects.

Despite these other victories, I feel a huge bitterness that Prop 8 appears to have passed. I am genuinely surprised, first of all. I knew it would be somewhat close, but I did not actually believe it would pass. I had more faith in the awareness of the people in this state than was warranted, apparently. I've already explained why Prop 8 is unfair, wrong, and completely analagous to the racist "separate but equal" Jim Crow Laws that survived until the 1960's, so I won't go into all that again. (Except to point out that California's Supreme Court was the first in the nation to strike down the ban on interracial marriage as unconstitutional in 1948, and I was glad to see the Court repeat its wisdom back in May, despite the stupidity and bigotry of the voters.)

All I'll say is this: Those who voted for this initiative (apparently a majority of this state) are, in my eyes, as equally bigoted as those who supported the ban on interacial marriage that became law in California in 1850 and lasted until almost 100 years later. You do not get a pass on this just because your church told you to do it and you were too indoctrinated to think for yourselves and realize it was wrong. And when homosexuals finally are granted the same rights as heterosexuals, hopefully some time in the not-so-distant future, your legacy will be that you opposed equal rights, opposed equal treatment under the law, and supported discriminatory policies that were along the same lines as slavery, Jim Crow laws, and Japanese Internment camps. Shame on you. You made a horrible mistake. And I won't be letting you forget it.

15 comments:

Regan said...

I agree whole heartedly. Don't let them forget. Don't let people get away with discrimination.

Anonymous said...

You rock, David.

Boo on discrimination and bigotry. A friend of mine said she will fight in court to keep her marriage legal. In this day of a 50%+ divorce rate, it's bizarre that someone has to fight to STAY married.

On an up note, we've been discussing the election for weeks at school now. One of my kids said something to this effect this morning, "Hey, I can be president someday. I'm Filipino and there has never been a Filipino president, but now Barak Obama is the first African American president so I can be president someday too." Awesome.

--Vanessa

alisa said...

Well said as usual, bro.
I had so many heated discussions w/ people yesterday about prop 8 passing. I am the only one that voted no at my work!!! can you believe it??
Equal rights takes time, i guess, as we have seen.

lara said...

My friend, Julie, directed me to your blog. I was so disappointed that Prop 8 actually passed! Thank goodness there are so many people like you speaking out against this discrimination.

Simplysara said...

Hi David,

I am pretty disgusted by the passage of Prop 8 and that Prop 5 (treatment not jail for drug offenders) didn't pass.

I had a conversation with someone we both know about why she had voted in support of prop 8 and she told me she had no problems with gay people getting married, she just didn't want gay marriage taught in schools. The pro-8 agenda has turned this issue into an incredible mess. They are the ones that purposely wrote a very simple (albeit discriminatory) proposition and are then turning the lack of detail around to their advantage stating that since the proposition doesn't say anything about schools and religion then it could affect those "institutions".

I just still don't understand how gay marriage affects anyone other than the gay people who want to be married. Those commercials were so irritating, particularly the one with Gavin Newsome at the end in which they take all context away except him saying "whether they like it or not". So basically, Prop 8 supporters are saying they are taking rights away from a select group of people because they don't like those people. Funny, how some of their commercials also stated something along the lines of, "we like gay people but we want marriage to be protected." I wonder what they are protecting?

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Sara,

Regarding the education standpoint, I made another post a couple weeks ago talking about the education standards for California that do deal with marriage.

Long story short, those standards state that, at some point in a "comprehensive health education" program, the legal and financial aspects of marriage should be discussed in the classroom. They define a "comprehensive health education program" as: "all educational programs offered
in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, in the public school
system". And the aspect of such a program that actually deals with marriage is listed as the following topic that must be covered at some point:

"Family health and child development, including the legal and
financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood."

Now, that document does not specify when during the K-12 grade levels each topic should be discussed. Another document (see my previous post for the references to those documents) says that marriage should be discussed at some point during high school, but there is nothing in those documents saying that it CANNOT be discussed before that. So, technically, the yes-on-8 people are right when they say it could happen. Some school district somewhere in CA could decide to teach the legal/financial responsibilities of marriage in a grade earlier than high school.

What the yes-on-8 people DON't tell you, though, is that, unlike in Massachusetts, there are clear California laws that give the parents the right to pull their child out of any health-education class that they are uncomfortable with.

Secondly, if people are so worried about the timing at which marriage is discussed in school, they should lobby to have the wording of the state health education standards ammended and clarify. Add a 4-word phrase like "Beginning in 9th grade. . ." before the line I quoted above, and you've solved that whole problem.

But no, the yes-on-8 people have managed to convince a majority of the voters in this state that the right way to solve this problem is not to insert a 4-word clause in the health education standards document, but to take the right to marry away from an entire population of people.

David said...

BTW: the link to my previous post with links to the actual CA education standards is here:
http://dgalvan.blogspot.com/2008/10/no-on-proposition-8.html

Oh, and regarding Prop 5, I actually voted no on that one. I basically was convinced by the reasoning of the L.A. Times editorial on it:
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-ed-5prop26-2008sep26,0,7072255.story

Anonymous said...

What about children that homosexuals might bring into the world? Given the large number of partners that male and female homosexuals have and the tendency of their relationships to be unstable, it's very likely that the child will not be brought up in a stable environment.

Moreover, it's likely that the child will neither know their father or
their mother, which will scar them emotionally and leave them without
a parent that will teach about the other half of humanity.

It is important that homosexuals get equal rights, i.e. civil partnerships,
but it's also important that they do not imperil the rights of others, primarily their children's rights. Adults rights should not trump children's rights (e.g., as in the case of Nadya Souleman).

With the liberation of the institution of marriage (no fault divorce) and
the pervasive selfishness and narcissism, marriage rate is at all time low, and 40% of the kids accross the country are born bastards. Most children now grow up in single parent households with very bad consequences for the children and the society as a whole: poor mental health, increased crime rate, drug abuse, and etc. and the much higher likehood that their children will follow their parents
path.

What we need now is not further liberation of the institution of marriage, but making sure that people face up to their repsponsibilites and do not contribute to further dysfunction. Major social disintegration is going on, but people turn a blind eye to this and insted focus on homosexuals rights to contibute to this disintegration.

Read item #7 of:

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0095.html

David said...

@Anonymous:

Your entire argument is based on the assumption that homosexuals cannot provide a stable family environment for children. There is no evidence supporting this assumption. There are certainly homosexuals who would not make good parents, just as there are heterosexuals who would not make good parents.

I read #7 on the link you provided. That item only provides statistics showing that children raised in "broken homes" have higher propensities for mental illness, poverty, criminal activity, etc. It has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality, as there is no evidence supporting the idea that homosexual parents tend to provide unstable or "broken" homes.

All the other points you have raised, and all the other points on the website you have linked to, address problems that children will face if raised in unstable family situations. Since there is evidence supporting the idea that same sex marriages are inherently unstable compared to opposite-sex marriages, this entire line of reasoning is irrelevant.

Not to mention that, even if it were true, it would still make no sense to prohibit gay couples from getting married, as the issue of marriage is only concerned with the couple making the legally binding commitment to each other. As far as the law is concerned, marriage need have nothing to do with child rearing. If marriage were only for the purpose of raising children, then you should be campaigning to invalidated marriages between childless couples.

Anonymous said...

David, you are incorrect in saying that there is no evidence that relationships among gays are inherently unstable. My common sense and nearly all evidence that I have seen to date indicates that they are. Read downloads.frc.org/EF/EF08L45.pdf. Would you mind if you were brought up by a male or female homosexual couple and were significantly exposed to homosexual culture? Statistically, being male, you would have a lesser chance of being born to female homosexuals (this is due to sex selection).

Please have a version of marriage for homosexuals with all traditional benefits for heterosexuals, but do not let them harm the children.

David said...

Your "common sense" has no bearing on the actual situation. It was common sense to have slaves back in the 1700's and 1800's. That didn't make it right.

No, I would not mind if I were brought up in a gay couple family, because it would simply seem normal to me as a child, as all family structures seem normal to the children within them at first. Personally, I do know gay couples and have gay friends. Do you? If not, I would argue your position is based on an ignorance of the fact that this whole issue of gay marriage is not academic, but a personal and emotional one that affects real people with real families. If you do have gay friends and have been exposed to gay culture, I would be even more perplexed at how you could advocate for taking away your friends' right to enter into commited relationships.

Second, I have looked at the pdf you attached, and here is my response (as already posted in the thread of my other blog post).

if your argument is made in the interest of protecting children, then it has no application to childless couples, and no application to marriage in general. Since (childless or child bearing) heterosexuals are able to marry each other, and obtain the social status and legal rights inherent in that relationship, homosexual couples should be given the same equal rights under the law. Marriage, in and of itself, need have nothing to do with children.

And, since it is currently perfectly legal (at least in California and many other states) for a homosexual couple to produce/adopt/raise a child, the whole issue of raising children need have nothing to do with marriage, either. It is legal (as it should be) for a homosexual couple to raise a child, whether or not they are considered legally married, as is the case for heterosexual couples. Thus, claiming that gays should not be allowed to marry because they shouldn't be allowed to raise children is irrelevant and baseless. The right to raise children is not exclusively tied to the right to marry. The two are separate issues. Most of the time, petitions to adopt a child result in an investigation of the stability of the home environment for a child, whether the applicant is a heterosexual couple, homosexual couple, or single parent. Decisions are made on a case by case basis and are not (or at least, should not be) biased by the sexual preference of the applicant(s).

David said...

Also, I strongly disagree with the implications being made in the pdf you linked. It does, indeed, quote many surveys and studies, but all of these studies merely show the results of telephone or question based surveys to describe a snapshot of patterns in a particular demographic for a given sample set. (I'll ignore the anecdotal evidence provided in the pdf, telling stories from individual kids and depicting their individual experiences. Those tell us nothing other than what happened to those particular individuals, and for every anecdote showing homosexual parenting in a negative light, I can produce one showing it in a positive light.)

It is irrelevant that one study finds a higher rate of promiscuity, for example, among homosexuals, as that has no bearing on the rights afforded to an individual couple. What if we were to apply similar surveys and implications to heterosexuals? Because roughly half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorces, should we deem heterosexual couplings "inherently unstable", and take away that right? What's more, these statistics change over time. Divorce was relatively uncommon in the 1950's in the United States. Are you under the delusion that, because divorce has become more common since then, that somehow there was less real abuse and fewer unstable or harmful relationships back then than today? The prevalence of divorce has been liberating (good) for some, and enabling (bad) for others, but this does not mean that a given individual couple today is any less capable of remaining faithful to one another or raising children today than they were 50 or 100 years ago.

And what about different ethnic groups? Because the proportion of single-parent families is currently much higher among African Americans than caucasian, should African Americans be somehow inhibited or prohibited from having sexual relationships?

Of course not. Because those statistics only play a role in helping us to target problems that could potentially be solved by greater education, not by prohibition of interpersonal relationships.

The statistics and surveys you reference have no bearing on the rights and freedoms that should be allotted to individual citizens under the law. Just as you would not ban blacks from having sex with one another due simply to the currently high rates of single-parent families in their demographic, you should not ban homosexuals from forming legally-recognized unions.

I find little to glean from the linked pdf other than an intention to spread fear. If you are worried about gay marriage destroying or disrupting society somehow, and are interested in convincing others that it poses a threat, I ask you to provide an example where it has somehow harmed those societies where it is already legal. It is currently legal in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachussets, Iowa, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.

These societies have managed to survive despite their respecting the rights of individuals to enter into committed relationships. I see no reason why their experience would be much different for California.

Anonymous said...

Dave, thank you for your response. I understand that you support gay marriage out of egalitarian principles, but I do not think that you truly understand the implications.

If you think that family law as practiced today can protect children of homosexuals, read “Taken into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family.” and see how the system works in practice.

Wrt. your statement that “Divorce was relatively uncommon in the 1950's in the United States. Are you under the delusion that, because divorce has become more common since then, that somehow there was less real abuse and fewer unstable or harmful relationships back then than today?”

Yes, I do believe that there was less abuse and fewer unstable and harmful relationships in the 1950’s. No small part of the reason is values and culture and the amount of cultural and relationship baggage that people carry. People were not as materialistic, narcissistic, selfish and entitled back then (The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement). Honor and dignity meant more to people than status and riches. It was not a winner take all society to the extent that the society is today. There was not as much trash and display of utter dysfunction on TV. Young generation back then was far more rooted and psychologically healthy than today. In many ways, life was easier back then, and people brought less stress into their relationships from work and etc. Society was much more cohesive before, and one could rely on extended a families and friends to a greater extent than one can today. Most people had both extended families that they could tap. Cumulatively, all these meant that people saw their fianc├ęs more as their livelong partners and not as enablers. There was more respect for human life back then. Overall, given that our DNA did not change much in those 50-60 years, but we have become a whole lot more selfish, dysfunctional and narcissistic, it stands to reason that there is more relationship abuse now than before. A higher percentage of the population is incarcerated now than before (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States), and violent and non-violent crime is up significantly.

I view gay marriage more as another negative trend that further dilutes the message about what marriage should be all about – building families and engendering social cohesion. I view decline of marriage in a very negative light as an expression of selfishness with serious negative implications for children and society as a whole. Civil rights for African Americans were a good thing. Perverse incentives that Welfare created were not (such incentives devastated African American families). I am concerned that gay marriage is more of an expression of let everyone do whatever they want to do (as in no one should critique individual choices) regardless of the impact on the society, than a pressing problem that needs to be solved. There are much bigger problems that need to be solved (decline in marriage) that all are too happy to ignore.

Anyway, I have fully considered what you have had to say. I will keep on educating myself about social trends in our country, and I hope that you will too. Just make sure that you do not engross yourself in it. I thought that I might liven up the discourse with socially conservative commentary on family issues (btw, I am an environmentalist and voted for Obama).

David said...

I am skeptical that there are actually more real abuse or relationship problems today than 50 years ago. I suspect that we are simply more aware of the problems today than people were 50 years ago. Analogous to diagnosis of ADD: there are many more cases today than in the past, at least partially because we have gotten better (or at least specified our criteria) in diagnosing it; not because of a true increase in the prevalence of the affliction. There were fewer divorces in the 1950's because it was less socially acceptable at the time. But I suspect there was roughly the same amount of marital disfunction and abuse going on; it was just not discussed as often.

I appreciate your viewpoint and your willingness to discuss this hot topic in a civil manner. I always enjoy these types of discussions, as I usually come away from them having learned something new.