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Thursday, November 06, 2008

One step forward, two steps back . . .

For Episcopalians, anyway, this election is beginning to sound hauntingly familiar.

At General Convention 2006, we elected the first woman as our Presiding Bishop and Primate in The Episcopal Church and World Wide Anglican Communion.

A few days later, we passed resolution (hold your nose and vote) B033 which effected a moratorium on the consecration of duly elected LGBT people to the episcopacy.

It was as if we could not allow ourselves to progress too much - to advance the liberation of the gospel at too fast a pace - 'lest, oh, I don't know, we get giddy and foolish and actually start living out the promises of our baptism in Christ Jesus rather than just talking - or arguing incessantly - about it.

For Episcopalians, anyway, it's deja vu all over again.

I am still giddy from what we did on Tuesday. Barack Obama will be a stellar president. Then again, it won't take too much for him to shine, given the darkness and despair in which we've been living for the past 8 years. Then again, he's got one of the toughest "To Do" lists ever handed to a new POTUS.

Today, however, my giddiness is tempered by the fact that the referendum in California known as Proposition 8 is still too close to call. According to the web site, only 400,000 votes separate victory from defeat (well, from my perspective anyway) and there are an estimated 4 Million absentee ballots yet to be counted.

One step forward, two steps back. It's the dance toward justice every woman, person of color and LGBT people know well.

It's the dance that is surprised that an African American man who was in the top 10% of his class and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School could actually win the election as POTUS from a former POW who graduated in the low 1% of his class at the Naval Academy.

As Ms. Conroy said, "We don't need 8 more years of dumb."

The only surprise I have is that there was a surprise that Mr. Obama won the election. Handily. Without really breaking a sweat.

No, let me restate that. I am surprised by the status of the vote in California regarding Prop 8. And, that's just not my inner Pollyanna speaking or my stereotype of Granola Heads in California.

No, let me restate that. I am astonished that, in 2008, there is actually a movement, for the first time in our history, to write discrimination into the Constitution.

Yes, yes. I know. It ain't over till it's over. There are only 400,000 votes separating us from victory and approximately 4 million absentee ballots left to be counted.

Yes, I've also read the analysis. The word is that over 70% of those who voted for Proposition 8 are people of color. And yes, I've read the racist conclusions drawn by some of that analysis.

And, I am ashamed. Deeply.

Forget about surprise. Forget about shame. What confuses me, what completely boggles my mind is the whatever it is in our human DNA that seems always to want to put someone lower on the socio-economic ladder than we are.

My friend Dana, now numbered among the saints, used to call this "foot-on-neck" disease. We all suffer from it. It's a social disease that has, on occasion, been known to fulminate into a social epidemic.

As I reflect on these things in Boston, my beloved home town of 'Dirty Water', my thoughts are literally all over the map: Chicago and Delaware and yes, Arizona and Alaska. But, my prayers are in California.

Please pray with me. Pray for justice for all God's children. Pray for the equal application of our constitutional rights for every American citizen. Pray that the dream that gave birth to this great nation of ours will come true for everyone who lives here in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

We have this sure and certain hope. Let us now be the change we believe in.


Jim said...

I think you slightly misread the statistic. What is being reported is that about 70% of the African American voters who voted for Sen. Obama voted for Prop. 8. That does not mean as you seem to have written that 70% of the vote for the proposition came from that demographic. I have not seen analysis for other ethnic blocks that are commonly grouped into, "people of color."

It seems to me the percentage is predictable. Not because these are votes from a particular ethnic minority but because they are votes from a particular religious block. Most, not all but most, religious African Americans are within "Bible church" traditions. They were getting two messages this year one pro-Obama and the other anti-gay. At a guess, in California about 70% of them got that set of messages.

Here in Illinois where I live, we see it all the time. Or for that matter consider the recent experience at Lambeth where ABp Daniel led the Sudanese in an anti-gay rant. It is about theology, not ethnicity.

We have some work to do.


IT said...

Actually, jimB, the statistic is based on exit polls simply of yes or no votes on 8, not broken down by presidential preference.

In california, more people voted to protect battery farmed chickens than my marriage.

Family notification on abortion wsa defeated, but not a constitional amendment rescinding my rights.

All those "we're one big family" statements from the OBama campaign? There was an asterisk. It meant, Except for gays. But they sure took our money gladly enough.

The Yes-on-8 campaign used robocalls with Obama's own words saying "Marriage should be between a man and a woman".

As I wrote over at Grandmere Mimi's, the national mood is "Yes we can, but no you can't."

I was married 3 weeks ago. The viciously triumphalist pro-8 forces are planning a suit to immediately and forcibly anul my marriage.

And from the Democratic party?



IT said...

By the way, the pro-8 forces would have to decisively win those remaining ballots by over 60% to change this. Ain't gonna happen. many counties in CA voted for Prop8 by margins >70%.

The common denominator in the pro-8 forces of hate isn't race. The black vote is quite small, overall, and while frustrating, didn't pass it on its own.

No, the common denominator in the voters for PRop-hate is Christianity. Over 65% of those espousing Christian or Catholic views voted for hate.


Jim said...

I think IT and I agree actually. It is indeed a religious / cultural divide we see. As to some of the stats, the percentage of African Americans who voted for Mr. McCain was so small that 'statistically insignificant' is kind.

The culture will change. It is still a long hard and damn hard and bitter road. But it will change.

The religion arises from the culture -- people pick their church to fit their views to be {gak} "comfortable."


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jim and IT - thanks for your clarifications and offering of your opinions on this.

Help me understand, then, IT: Is Prop 8 still alive or has it been decided? Will those 4 million absentee ballots make a difference? Is there still a way to make this "no" without pursing legal avenues?

Sherry said...

I was just sickened when I found out Prop 8 had passed. Just weeks ago, I had heard it was down 17 points in the polling. I'm told it might not stand up to the courts in terms of constitutionality. I am praying it does not. To finally get it right as to president and get this so wrong is disheartening and hurts deeply.