Thursday, November 06, 2008

The best and the worst

Yesterday saw America at its best, as after more than 230 years of struggle, of slavery, a civil war, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, it finally lived up to its promise and elected a man based on the content of his character rather than the colour of his skin. But it also saw America at its worst, as hateful bigoted theocrats used referenda to ram through anti-gay measures in four states. Arkansas and Florida both passed constitutional amendments banning not just same-sex marriage, but recognising same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere - and California, supposedly the most liberal state in the union, looks like it will follow suit. The latter case is particularly troubling. Gay couples have been getting married in California for months, after the state Supreme Court ruled that the equal protection of the law applied to gays as well as straights. But its entirely unclear what happens to those marriages - are they all retroactively nullified? Or are they merely rendered legally meaningless, as the state is barred from recognising them? Either way, it's a pretty vile act, and I expected a lot better from them.

And while we're on the subject of vile, Arkansas banned gay couples from adopting children. Lovely. On the plus side, voters in South Dakota rejected the latest attempt by theocrats to ban abortion, and Californians rejected parental notification, but there's still some very definite backwards steps there.