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Thursday, November 06, 2008

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Flies in the Annointment

004

For the first time in three presidential elections since I've been in the U.S., I accompanied Patrick to the polls as an "international observer" and watched him cast a ballot that his parents could never have imagined.

It was thrilling. We went home, turned on the television, and pretty much stayed glued to it until midnight. The kids, too, camped out on an air mattress on the family room floor. My nine-year-old called out the projections as they came in, state by state.

"All the blue is in the north," he observed early on.

And therein lies one of two flies in the annointment.

As jubilant as we are over Obama's win, I'm deeply disappointed in the South.

I know there are people all over this country who voted Republican for the right reasons, but I've been here too long to kid you or myself that the uniformly red overlay of the old confederacy is not largely about race.

It'd be like trying to tell you the Confederate cause was essentially about states' rights. There are people here who will tell you that with a straight face. And in the next breath, deny that they are affected by the racial baggage of this region's heritage.

All of us -- black and white -- are shackled together by that legacy of denial and shame. As long as we keep trying to get away from it, and each other, nobody is getting anywhere. It's like watching partners in a three legged race try to outrun each other.

I think I will have more to say about that in the days to come.

The other disappointment is in the various votes that rolled back civil rights for same-sex families, including a proposition in Arkansas that denies such families the opportunity to serve as foster parents.

I have such strong feelings on this topic because of the value I place on marriage as a legal and societal institution. People who love each other will find a way to be together, believe me. What possible justification is there for leaving them outside, no roof over their heads?

You want to know what weakens and violates the sanctity of my marriage? Denying it to people who love each other as much as we do.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer H said...

Here in Arizona, Prop 102 passed - to amend our constitution to define marriage as between one man and woman. And the thing I couldn't help noticing was that everywhere there were signs and TV ads and expensive-looking fliers in the mail, encouraging people to vote yes. But I don't remember seeing one sign from the NO camp.

I've been telling myself since Tuesday night that ten years ago hardly any of us would have believed that the country would reach the milestone that we did this week. So maybe in another 10 years (such a long time, when people want to make families...long enough to make it impossible for some), or sooner, maybe that domino will fall, too.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

That was very well said (as usual). Painful to watch people being denied rights due to fear, ignorance, and bigotry.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Karen Maezen Miller said...

"We have lost the South for a generation." Or maybe it was a hundred years. Or a thousand? We are, most of us, eternally divided, and not merely geographically. When you see that only love unites, you will see that you are exactly where you can do the most good. Love your neighbor, even when you don't like them.

I got out of Texas, but left none of this behind.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

What was sad about the AR proposition regarding foster children was that it was not more specific. I believe in letting same sex couples if they meet the requirements foster children. What I don't believe in is letting a woman foster children with her live in boyfriend or boyfriends. But the wording of the amendment was in a way that it prohibited both parties, so while I wanted to allow legitimate parents the right to foster, but prohibit live ins of the opposite sex, it all got jumbled up into one.

11:14 AM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

What a handsome husband you have!

11:22 AM  
Blogger Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

Virginia went blue. So did North Carolina. Huge strides were made, although there is certainly more to be done. I am saddened by the lack of tolerance evident in so many areas, but hopeful that if we as a country can elect Obama as President, we can make progress in those other areas as well. Of course, its hard when we want things to be done RIGHT NOW, but we are making headway, I think.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

I love the three-legged race line. And I agree there is a lot of ground still to be covered. I just take profound hope in the fact that we (sorry, you) managed to elect a black president, three legs notwithstanding.

It's funny how I default to "we", but understandable, given the potential global reach of the United States (for better or worse).

Canada's federal government made same-sex marriage legal in 2005. There was opposition from the Conservative Party and some kickback from churches, but it's law now and I don't expect it to change. Our pillars of morality have not crumbled, and life goes on. I expect the same will happen there... someday.

“The key to change... is to let go of fear.”
- Rosanne Cash

12:42 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I am a first-time reader of your blog and you write beautifully.

However, I have to disagree that the south didn't vote for Obama merely because he is black. I am a Republican from Oklahoma, and I voted for McCain. It had nothing whatsoever to do with color, but rather with my own personal politics.

Am I excited, thrilled and heartened that we have a man of color as our new president-elect? YES! I find it very exciting and thrilling. My twins, who are six, will grow up with the idea that having a black man for president is ordinary. He will be the first president they remember. That's wonderful!

If I was shallow enough to vote solely based on color, on race, I would have voted for Obama, because I think it's high time that someone other than an old white man was president. However, I vote my with my brain, not my emotions, and for me, Mr. Obama was not my choice. That being said, he WILL be our next president and I'm eager to see what he will do for us and with us, as a nation.

Just please remember - living in the south does not a racist make. Ignorance does that, not geography.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

5:24 PM  
Blogger Tere said...

As I southerner, I have hope. Attitudes are changing in the south but VERY slowly. There are racists everywhere across the US, not just in the south. I voted for Obama based on a lot of things and for me, he was a candidate for president who just happened to be black (or bi-racial). There are more people like me here and I have high hopes for the next generation. But change is slow. Sadly.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Jennifer,

may I always have readers who know it's okay to disagree :-)

my perception may indeed be colored by recent close encounters with racism in the course of this campaign, both subtle and not so.

and I haven't spent much time in the north, but I know the south doesn't have a monopoly on race issues.

but I do think racial issues are particularly deep and tangled in this region, which is so special and so dear to me.

yes, ignorance -- and poverty -- are root causes.

and I hope nobody reads my disappointment in the overall trend in the southern vote as calling Republicans, Republican values, or all southerners racist.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

also, I haven't parsed the vote (or my thoughts) carefully enough to intelligently comment, but nested within this post today is bewilderment over the irony that these are states with some of the highest african-american populations.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Thoughtful post, interesting comments. Thanks.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I love this - "may I always have readers who know it's okay to disagree :-)" and I have to agree. I used to blog a lot and I was always excited when someone took the time to comment, to question something I'd said, and to make me really THINK. It's exciting. *grin* It's so much better than when just my friends pop by and comment the same old, same old - "you're so right," etc.

Still looking forward to more of your writing and plan to become a regular reader. Have a great weekend!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Loren Christie said...

I voted for McCain because I am pro-life, and Obama's stance regarding the life issue is not admirable. I understand why Obama won, and I just wish he'd support legislation that protected the sanctity of human life. Race was completely NOT an issue for me. Thanks for being brave enough to talk politics.

1:44 PM  

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