Sweet…and bitter


Obviously I am overjoyed that Obama has won. His landslide victory in many ways redeems my country, and makes so many things possible. And the symbolism that his candidacy represents around the world is stunning. From my travels, I know how improbable his victory was seen around the world. For many, it was a given that the US was too conservative, and too racist to allow this to happen. I think in an instant we have redefined to the world what is possible from America and its citizens. I was also thrilled to see that in my native Indiana, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat since 1964, it looks like Obama has won (by a razor thin margin). Indiana was formerly the most reliably Republican state in the union, always being called within minutes of the polls closing. The fact that it has gone to Obama is representative of the sea change in American politics right now.

And the faces. To see the tears streaming down the faces of so many people, especially African Americans, in disbelief and joy, was especially moving. And my own tears, as it was finally announced that he had passed the threshold to win, that we had finally beaten back the monster of the past 8 years, and to see that redemption was possible for my country, and to know that I could go home and help rebuild.

My joy was tinged with bitterness, however upon seeing the results of California’s Prop 8. It appears that California voters have decided to write discrimination into our state constitution, branding me and other gay people as second class citizens, separate and unequal. And how very ironic and upsetting that by far the largest group (proportionally) opposed to our equality should be African Americans.

“Freedom for me, but not for thee…”

I guess my plan to move to New York at the end of the year has just been validated with one more reason.


  1. Maureen says:

    I apologize for all of the backwards-thinking, black-hearted haters here in California.

  2. Josh L says:

    Yes, I feel similarly divided,and sad that the groundswell of public participation did not translate into rejection of prop 8.

    I know folks here in Illinois worked hard over in Indiana to create some energy around the election, and there is such a sunny feeling today (plus, it is actually quite nice outside). I’ve heard some talk that the California supreme court may somehow decide that prop 8 is unconstitutional, but I don’t know if there’s any substance behind that. Or whether that would be a good thing for the courts to get involved again right now.

  3. Um… you’ve misrepresented the statistics. According to the link you provide (which is accurate), the “largest group opposed to our equality” is Whites. Look at the actual percentages of total votes:

    Blacks account for 10% of the total votes.
    70% of those were “Yes” votes.
    Which means that 7% of the total “Yes” votes came from Blacks.

    Whites account for 63% of the total votes.
    49% of these were “Yes” votes.
    Which means 30% of the total “Yes” votes came from Whites, far outnumbering any other group.

    It’s unfortunate that this kind of “blame the Blacks” shorthand is fueling racist fires across the blogs, when simple math skills are all that’s required to interpret those statistics.

    In reality it’s a pretty even split so there is no “largest group” in particular to demonize. Nor would it give us any power to do so. What would give us power is to take responsibility for our failure to reach out across social, economic and racial lines to build a coalition that would have defeated this measure. The good news is, that would be a next course to take in the battle ahead.

  4. Stephen says:

    Aman, I totally agree that there is plenty of blame to go around, including among the gay community that conducted a less than stellar campaign against Prop 8. I don’t want to focus all the blame in any particular place. But please, don’t tell me that it isn’t troubling that exactly at the moment when the American “dream” of full participation in the club of citizenship (represented in attaining the presidency) is bearing fruit for African Americans, that they should turn around and perpetuate the same hatreds towards another minority. You may spin it anyway you like, but it IS a problem, and one we need to deal with in outreach and education. You might be interested in further analysis of possible implications here.

  5. I don’t disagree with your last statement; however, that’s NOT what you wrote in your blog post.

    You wrote: “the largest group opposed to our equality should be African Americans.” That is just a patently untrue statement. Blacks comprise 6.2% of the population of California. Even if every single one of them voted for Prop 8, they could still not be “the largest group opposed to our equality.” Painting them as such is careless and inflammatory.

    And I do not agree that there is plenty of blame to go around. (I said the opposite, that there is no group to demonize.) I have no desire to place blame and live in world of “fault” but rather to take responsibility , stop being a victim and move forward to fight this.

    As you said WE must deal with it with outreach and education. As I said in my response, I’m about taking responsibility, and I never used the word blame. Responsibility is the willingness to be cause in the matter. It’s a grace one gives oneself.

    Certainly it’s a wake-up call about race relations. Which you can read more about here:

  6. Stephen says:

    I meant proportionally the largest group, but feel free to nitpick if it makes you feel somehow better about the horrible outcome. I have edited the post above to add the word proportionally. Happy?

  7. I am no nitpicking, nor am I attempting to feel somehow better about this. Frankly, I find how you state that to be condescending. (I’m not asserting that you are being condescending and sarcastic, that’s just how it’s landing over here.)

    Nor am I trying to spin anything as you said earlier. I’ve only looked plainly at the figures in the very links you have provided without adding anything to them. This isn’t about feelings. It’s just about what’s so.

  8. Even with the edit, it’s still unclear. What is accurate is that a large proportion of the blacks who voted were in favor of Prop 8. This proportion was larger than in any other groups measured. And yes it is troubling. And yes, even more so in light of the fact that we have made such a great leap forward in electing a black President.

    And though I voted for Obama, I did not do so as a favor to the blacks. Two connect the two seems like a slippery slope towards I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine, which is not the same as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow citizens.

    The most troubling statistic I’ve found coming out of Tuesday is that 27% of gays voted for McCain/Palin.