I wept when I read Leonard Pitts' column about black anti-marriage-equality voters.
As a white woman -- and a white woman with hundreds of beloved black family members -- the risk of being accused of racism when I point out the fact that black religious traditionalist bigots who were new or rare voters brought to the polls this time by the otherwise delicious Obama candidacy put Yes on 8 over the top.
The Obama campaign knew in advance that that would be the effect and that they would win without those voters, yet openly pandered to their bigotry again and again in the campaign. And they did nothing to help their new young voters, who stood with us, learn how to vote a ballot all the way through instead of just stopping at the elected offices. This leaves me with huge, conflicting feelings screaming inside to be heard but, with family and near-family African-American friends, too often left festering like an untreated leprous elephant in the living room.
I voted for Obama because of many things, not the least of which was that it would bring my African-American loved ones that Velveteen Rabbit sense of being finally real that we've all seen on so many faces this last week -- and I would do it again, pleased on the one hand that I can, after eight long horrid years, finally legitimately use the term, "President-Elect".
But that doesn't make his election less bittersweet for me.
My wife and I got a call from our attorney the day after the election telling us that we should not return to our Florida home -- not even stretch a toe across the state line -- that, legally, it would be too dangerous for us in the wake of the Florida amendment's being voted into law. If we had to go to court to challenge any problem with our various domestic-partner-based insurance policies or the many couples documents we have cobbled together in a poor result attempt to mimic the protections our civil marriage ought to provide, there could easily be no relationship recognized by Florida law on which to rule in our favor, no matter how just our cause otherwise.
We're sending in straight people to pack us up and move us out and have no idea how long it will be until we can return if we even live that long. The discussion is now way past the rhetorical for us, not to mention the manatees to whom we were used to lovingly feeding their favorite Romaine lettuce treat from the end of our dock that jutted into the languid Banana River off our favorite Space Coast island from which we could literally not just see, but feel the rockets fire off into the ever-intriguing sky, our spirits hurtling along with them, imagining life in strange and wondrous places out among the stars.
It's been a long time since I've felt this much an "unacceptable other" and the closest thing I have to an analogy about the strange juxtaposition of joy and grief on election night is the surreal long night when a dear one collapsed and died suddenly one New Year's Eve in the midst of festivities that just went on in spite of it. To say that President-Elect Obama's acceptance speech promises of a nation where everyone matters rang hollow is a huge understatement.
My wife and I kept punching in CNN's referendum results page long into the dawn while listening to pundits saying that the election was as clear an indicator as could be that it was time to put the N-word away -- that it no longer applied -- thinking, "Whoa, there, big fella, maybe you're speaking too soon because, while its relevance to one people just took a gloriously giant nosedive, it may just have been a sideways one, visiting itself with a big, unwelcome thunk instead right over here."
We were struck that even the lesbian mom on CNN clammed up which, when added to the pre-election stories of anti-gay violence committed by ballot measure proponents, drove home how, with precious few exceptions, we're fighting a newly-made-more-difficult fight alone and under threat -- that we can depend on pretty much ourselves alone to secure the changes we need to be considered fully, equally human in American under the law, much less in the broader social world.
So we thank Mr. Pitts for putting into words one of the four main sources of that marriage amendment pain in a way that may speak to it to those who need most to hear it better than we can. It helps us feel just a bit less alone.