Querying Cuse: With Liberty and Justice for Some

Posted: November 10, 2008 by jerkmag in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

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Barack Obama’s victory on Tuesday was cause for journalists to spew buoyant news stories evoking an egalitarian America. Juxtaposing the momentous occasion was news to the contrary.  Voters in four states approved ballots discriminate against same-sex couples-the most alarming being California’s Proposition 8, which effectively overturned Mays Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriages in the state. While one barrier on the path towards civil liberties was shattered with Barack’s victory, Proposition 8 proved another stood firmly in lady liberty’s way.  The news on Nov. 5th felt like finding a hole in your favorite pair of shoes; still favorable, but damn the fucking hole!

Most alarming was support of the bill by Black and Latino voters. Supporters of Proposition 8 predicted the “Obama Effect” long before election date. “To the extent that they are motivated to get to the polls, whether by this issue or by Barack Obama, it helps us,” said Frank Schubert, co-campaign manager for Yes on 8.  According to exit polls, 70 percent of Black voters and 53 percent of Latino voters backed the ban.  This demographic determined the outcome of Proposition 8, which succeeded by a two percent majority.  As African Americans flocked to the polls in record-breaking numbers to secure their piece of the American pie, most left the LGBT community with crumbs.  Despite the patriotic aphorism, it was liberty and justice for some, not for all.

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Seeing instances of homophobia in communities of color, and conversely, racism within the gay community baffles me. Because I occupy a space where my ethnicity and sexuality converge to form a “double minority,” I recognize how the two strands intersect. When we attempt to validate out struggles-placing our oppression as LGBT people or people of color on a pedestal of  “authenticity”-we fail to discern how the Black Civil Rights movement run vis-à-vis LGBT rights.  After all, biracial marriage was once illegal, and we all know what it’s like living in a pre-dominantly white, heterosexual society; that sneer from bigots who pander to deep-seeded stereotypes, the sting of N-bombs and F-bombs, omission from US history and the media, self-stigmatization, misrepresentations and disenfranchisement.  

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I realize that a big influence on Black voters was the blob of evangelical conservatives who funneled record-setting funding into the push for Proposition 8.  I’m also aware of the egregious forms of racism prevalent in a white, gay institution, but neither has to do with my frustration.  For minority groups who were, and still are, oppressed, civil rights isn’t and shouldn’t be about religious dogma or using personal plight for civil leverage; it is empathy through experiential struggle. 

In the dawn of a new political age, I am left with more questions then answers. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic state representative, best summed up the general national reaction to Proposition 8 when she told the New York Times, “The country was like, ‘Look, you get Obama, call it a day and go home,’ And frankly, I’ll take it.”  

So yes, embrace the resplendent presidential outcome, pop open champagne and rejoice in the “New America.” Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that the fight for civil liberty and social justice is over.  If Proposition 8 has told us anything, the fight has just begun. 

~ Mitchell

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