D.C.’s Presidential Primary is tomorrow, so this seems the perfect time to share Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins. The book tells of Anthony and Douglass’s fight for rights, including voting rights – and also their friendship and planning over tea and cake. Sean Qualls & Selina Aliko (who also collaborated on The Case for Loving) are responsible for the great mixed media illustrations. A preschool-appropriate introduction to two very important Americans!
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is a great thing that Obama won. Amazing and wonderful – and I am very excited and grateful. I voted for him, rooted for him, celebrated when it was announced that he won. I went to bed on Tuesday night happy and hopeful.
But try as I might, as much as I would like to be, I am not happy today.
Because this amazing day in America, this day where hope and change won and history was made, was followed by the news that Proposition 8 in California and the gay marriage and adoption bans in Arizona, Florida and Arkansas have all passed. There is a bitter taste in my mouth.
I would like to believe, like so many people do after this historic election that America is a more just place. That citizens are truly judged on the content of their character. That America is a place that embraces freedom and equal rights. But the fact is, despite how far we have come (and I do not question that for a second – tremendous progress has been made in this country in the arena of civil rights – and the election of Barack Obama Tuesday night is the prime, awe-inspiring example of that), we all still live in a country where every single anti-gay ballot initiative up for a vote on Tuesday passed.
We elected a black man president, we defended a woman’s right to chose in South Dakota, we guaranteed that chickens would be treated humanely in California, for christ’s sake, but America, at least a voting majority, still hates me. Hates that I am making my (normal, boring, home-owning, tax-paying) life with a woman. Doesn’t think my relationship should be recognized. Doesn’t think I should be able to adopt children. Doesn’t think that my family is deserving of legal protection. Doesn’t think that I should be able to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities that straight, married couples don’t even have to think about.
And so I feel sad today. Have felt sad since I woke up on the morning on November 5th and checked the news online.
It feels like, while the world of possibilities are opening up for so many Americans, I am being specifically excluded. That there is something so horrible about loving someone of your own gender, that it is necessary to take rights away from any person who does. (And that is what Proposition 8 did. It didn’t prevent the granting of rights in the future, as many marriage bans have, it took away existing rights. Can you imagine doing that? To anyone?)
I do not like being told that I am “less than”. I do not think that a majority population should be EVER be able to determine the rights of a minority population. You DON’T put rights to a popular vote.
So I am mad, that while everybody else gets to be unequivocally happy about this amazing and momentous election, this election that I was equally invested in, I sit here hurt and angry and upset, because my country has told me that I don’t matter. That while I share the dreams and aspirations of my fellow Americans, I am not deserving of the rights that they enjoy. I’m mad that I don’t get to feel the joy, that I should rightfully feel, having survived 8 years of the Bush nightmare and having elected a great man to be President.