Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Times They Are A Changin'

I'm on a complete high.  Despite predictions of a narrow victory, Barack Obama seems to have swept back to power.  The latest results I have is that he won the popular vote by 59,298,913 votes to Romney's 56,801,964.  If Florida does go to Obama, as looks almost certain currently, the President will have 322 electoral college votes to 206.  It is what I think they technically call a landslide.

There is another big story of interest to me here though, apart from the general rejection of right-wing, conservative philosophy.   There are six US states where same-sex marriage is permitted, but marriage equality was achieved either through law suits or by lawmakers, rather than as a result of direct votes by the population.

Last night, the State of Maine became the first US state to introduce marriage equality.  It has been joined by the State of Maryland and (subject to finally counting) by the State of Washington.  In Mid-West Minnesota, a ballot to introduce a ban on same sex marriage into the constitution was defeated by voters.  These smiling young smiling young faces of discrimination who voted yesterday to enshrine prejudice won't be too happy this morning.



This is massive.  LGBT people are in the minority everywhere, but voters have shown that they do care about issues outside their own personal interests.  Social issues and equality do matter to them. 

There will now be 9 US states where same-sex marriage is legal.  Federal appeal courts have repeatedly struck down the "Defence of Marriage Act"* and it is likely to end in the US Supreme Court.  The President himself took the principled, risky and politically unnecessary step of declaring that he was in favour of marriage equality during the campaign.

Meanwhile, closer to home, yesterday the highest court in Spain declared that same sex marriage is legal and constitutional.  This was in the face of an aggressive challenge by the country's conservative party and the Catholic hierarchy.  Although mired in arguments, the majority of the population in France supports same-sex marriage and its government is drawing up plans to introduce it there.  This will bring to 12 the number of countries with full marriage equality.



Back in May I saw the above tweet.  Its words have really stuck with me.   The fight isn't over yet, but we will get there.  The times, they are a changin'.  They are changing faster than I would ever have thought even two years ago.  An acceptance that lesbians, gays and bisexuals should have equal rights rather than be classed as inferior is rapidly becoming a reality.  The forces of reaction, discrimination and social conservatism are losing.

I don't want to pretend the discrimination I face is anything like that faced by people who have suffered in the past.  It isn't, by a million miles.  However, this picture sums up beautifully how widely accepted societal norms can change in a very short space of time and how we look back on it with genuine incomprehension now.


Thank you America.  Thank you voters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota.  Thank you Spanish Constitutional judges.  History is on our side.  Equality is right, it is just, and it is coming.



* Correction: thanks for the comment below. DOMA was penned by Republican Representative Bob Barr and was passed by the Republican dominated Congress.  Every Republican but one, in both houses, voted in favour of it.  A White House spokesman described it as "gay baiting" but President Clinton, not President Bush, signed it into law.


8 comments:

  1. DOMA was introduced by Clinton, not Bush.

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  2. At least in the U.S., the struggle for civil rights has to keep being fought because the right-wingers never stop trying to impose their various forms of bigotry. They keep trying to suppress the votes of black and Hispanic citizens. Their war against basic women's rights has reached levels unseen in 30 years.

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    Replies
    1. I do believe it was mainly Democrat States that opposed integration in the 50s and 60s. Just saying.

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    2. Yes, but that was because in the 19th century Republicans were (simplifying) the anti-slavery party, and Lincoln was a Republican: for that reason, the Republiocans were hated by Southerners and Democrats remained the majority party throughout the South for 100 years.

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  3. Did you see this, Peter?

    http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/11/our-differences-unite-us.html

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely. Quite, quite, beautiful.

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  4. It's a minor point but Nate Silver was not the only statistician who predicted an easy Obama victory (in Silver's case, correctly predicting every state), and triggered an hysterical reaction from the GOP in the process. They were speaking to those who would not hear. The idea this would be a close result seems to have been more attractive to the news media who, perish the thought, might have had in mind that a close result translates to heightened public interest. The BBC in particular clung to the traditional pundits' view. Perhaps it was coincidence they'd shipped a lot of very expensive staff off to America to cover the 'closest race for decades'. As I say, it's a minor point viewed against the background of relief that Obama did win.

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  5. As a lesbian I would like LGBT people to have the right to have a full marriage. Civil Partnerships are just that, a legally recognised way of sharing your love with your partner, but you don't have the same rights as a heterosexual marriage. I was raised Catholic but if I found The One I Must Spend My Life With then I want to say proper traditional vows and be able to share them in a recognised church. However, I know some LGBT people are against marriage so I feel there should be a choice BUT BOTH SHOULD BE OF EQUAL STATURE!

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