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America Elects a Black Man and Makes Gays the New Second Class Citizens


(Shorter Ian: If it requires throwing gays to the wolves, it’s not my revolution.) 

I’m glad Obama was elected, but four states just turned gays into official second class citizens. And Obama, with his ambivalence towards gay marriage, was at the heart of it. As late as yesterday robocalls going out from the bigots claimed, accurately, that Obama opposed gay marriage and suggested that voters should join Obama supporters in rejecting gay marriage in California. Given how close it was, this probably was the margin of victory. Obama’s limited coat tails yesterday destroyed equality for gays – the blood price of Obama’s victory was what amounts to a new anti-miscegnation law. My friends who are gay are devastated, angry and feel betrayed. The euphoria others feel at Obama’s victory has turned to bitter ashes for them.

California, Florida and Arizona made gay marriage illegal and Arkansas made gay adoption illegal. For our friends who are gay, yesterday was at best bittersweet, at worst a gut punch from their fellow citizens, a reminder that too many Americans consider them an acceptable group to hate and despise. Too many Americans have yet to learn that making another person into a lesser human being also demeans them, and that the rights you deny may also one day be denied you.

For, after all, having legislated religious morality and "icky" factor through proposition, what is to stop churches like the Latter Day Saints from pushing even more religious propositions onto the ballots?

I have always viewed America through the words of its founders. A country where all men are made equal. Certainly at the time those words were written, on one hand they didn’t really mean them, since blacks had no vote; and they really did mean them, since women were decidedly second class. But over time the United States has moved towards a more perfect realization of those words, first by freeing blacks, then by enfranchising women, then in 50’s and 60’s with the civil rights movement, ending segregation.

Yesterday America took a step back. Yesterday America proved the maxim that people always need someone to hate, someone to despise, someone to grind under their boot. That’s the America, or at least the California, Arkansa, Arizona and Florida who voted yesterday.

And yet, there is always tomorrow. What is done by proposition can be undone by proposition. In 2 years or 4, or more, we can repeal these propositions. I hope, I pray, that this is not another generational task, something that will take decades to accomplish. Too many of my friends, too many of those I care about, just lost the right to marry and with it, the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital, the right to inherit, the right to be treated before the law equally to straights. And others lost the right to form a family through adoption, which is made worse by the fact that there are never enough adoptive parents. There are now children who will never know a loving, gay, family, or any family at all, because of bigotry and hate.

People will suffer greatly because of these propositions. They are not academic enterprises in "rights", they have real world effects and those effects will hurt your fellow Americans, fellow Americans who have asked for nothing but to have their love recognized by the law in the same way as love between a man and a woman.

So let us gird ourselves for the next battle. Rights are always inalienable, but sadly they also must always be fought for. And it is that fight that stands before us. I hope all who read this today will join in that battle, for yourselves and your country as much as for your gay friends and fellow citizens. Because, in the end, a progressive movement, a liberal movement, which leaves gays behind is no movement worthy of any of us.

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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at