Election Special 2008: The World Is Changing

The votes have been cast, the balloons have come down, the champagne has popped and the confetti has been thrown, and we’re officially on the other side of the 2008 elections. Atheists and progressives have much to chew over in these results, and here are some preliminary thoughts of mine. In this post I’ll address three different, related subjects that I’ve been mulling over. Incidentally, in my Monday night open thread, I made some predictions about last night’s results; if you want to see how I fared before reading this post, please do.

The Presidency

Of course, we’ll lead with the big news: Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States. This election was historic in so many ways: a decisive repudiation of the past eight years of disastrous Republican governance; the continued decline of the GOP into a regional party of white Protestants; the signaling of a new, rising progressive majority in America; and, of course, the incredible, once-unthinkable truth that a black man has shattered the color barrier in American politics and ascended to the most powerful office in the world.

This result was a devastating verdict on the policies of the Bush era. Eight years of waste, corruption and misrule has left America with record deficits and record unemployment, embroiled in a costly and tragically unnecessary war, while the architects of 9/11 remain at large. Eight years of arrogance and open contempt for the rule of law has ruined our standing in the world, weakened the constitutional foundations of our democracy and upset the delicate balance our founders worked so hard to craft. Thankfully, McCain could not deceive voters about his acquiescence and culpability in these crimes. But there is enormous damage that the Obama presidency will have to repair, and massive challenges that he will face from the first day in office. With expanded Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, he probably has the political power he’ll need. The only question is whether he, and the Democrats, have the political will and savvy to do so, or whether their tenure will be marked by the same disappointing mixture of corporatism and timidity that’s characterized their performance since 2006. The voters have given them a chance; they now have to prove that they deserved it.

I’m under no illusions that Obama will be a progressive hero. At best, he’s a moderate with mildly progressive tendencies. His cave on the FISA telecom immunity bill was and still is a sore spot with me, and his stances on “clean coal” and the faith-based initiative were deplorable panders, though I understand why he probably considered them politically necessary. I wrote in 2006 that the Democrats would require much arm-twisting to act as a truly progressive governing coalition, but I think I underestimated just how difficult that would be and how much resistance they’d put up. Color me disillusioned. I hope I’ve rid myself of any similar delusions this time, and I realize that this victory, significant as it is, is not a final triumph. At best, it’s a beginning – the potential from which we true progressives can forge something good. Achieving that will take massive effort, probably at least as much as we put in to get to this point. Right now, we have some time to enjoy the post-election euphoria. Once that fades, I hope we can turn our attention to the challenges that lie ahead.

The Senate

There was one Senate race that we were all watching, and if you know which one I mean, then you already know the result – and I hope you’re as overjoyed about it as I am. But let me spell it out: Elizabeth Dole, confirmed anti-atheist bigot, has been defeated by Democratic challenger Kay Hagan. This was not a surprise, but it’s still extremely welcome news and well worth savoring.

In my earlier post, I predicted that Democrats would reach 60 seats in the Senate. As of this writing, that’s still not impossible, though it’s looking less likely. Four races remain to be called – Alaska, Oregon, Georgia and Minnesota – and the Democrats would need to win all of these. Minnesota, where the margin between Norm Coleman and Al Franken is razor-thin, is beginning a recount that may take until December. Depending on how yet-to-be-counted early ballots affect last night’s vote, the race in Georgia may go to a runoff; that’s the best outcome progressives can hope for at this point. Regardless, it seems to me that the Democratic candidates in these states didn’t live up to expectations. The Democratic wave seems to have crested higher on the East Coast than on the West, and I wonder if early results suggesting a victory for Obama made progressive voters in western states less motivated to turn out.

Ballot Measures

Not all news is good, alas. Although the fight isn’t quite over, the saddest news of the night is that the anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative, Proposition 8, looks to have passed in California. This, more than anything else, makes this election a bittersweet victory for me. This night was a bizarre reversal: odious anti-abortion measures were defeated in South Dakota and Colorado, while progressive California passed one of the worst and most discriminatory laws in American history. I still don’t know how this happened, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about it in the weeks to come. To my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I share your sorrow, but I implore you not to grow bitter or lose hope. This is a setback, but only a temporary one. Time is on our side; liberty and justice are on our side. It may take a little longer than we expected, but we will achieve marriage equality for all Americans. The dream of equality can be deferred, but it cannot be altogether silenced.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    What happened in California was threefold: first, people didn’t pay attention over the summer and notice that their marriages were still okay; second, large numbers of religious people who supported Obama also voted Yes on 8; and third, out-of-state churches, and I’m looking at you, Salt Lake City, enemy of progressive social movements always, poured tons of money into the state. I said on my site, “Today it felt like morning in America. Tonight the sun sets and we’re reminded that for every “Yes we can” there’s an unspoken but no less real “except if you’re gay”. We’ve still got a long way to go.

    But we have started the journey.

  • D

    Good post, and I wholeheartedly agree that our optimism must be tempered with an unrelenting will to keep improving. To add to the bad news department, Florida also passed their Proposition 2, and Arkansas made it illegal for unwed couples to adopt or serve as foster parents. On the other hand, some rights groups are challenging whether Proposition 8 should have been eligible for the ballot in the first place, on the grounds that it is not a mere amendment to the state’s constitution, but indeed functions as a revision to it (which citizens should not have the power to decide). I lack the legal savvy both to assess this motion and to analyze its potential impact as precedent, but I think it will be interesting.

    As for Hagan, I’m still a bit miffed at her corrections of Dole centering on the factual accuracy of Hagan’s religious loyalty, while ignoring the morality of using the lack of religious affiliation as an insult (nevermind all the other anti-atheist errors she failed to correct, though they could understandably be written off as “no longer about Hagan” and thus unnecessary to address). I don’t doubt that the precise wording of her statement was calculated specifically to help her win the election, and I’m glad that she did win if only because Dole has been ousted – my bitterness is gradually shifting towards the state of the system which caused such calculations to output the actual result. Still, I wonder if this will be addressed now that she’s won; will there perhaps be a statement from Hagan amounting to “atheists are people, too,” or is that too much to hope for?

  • Adele

    Congratulations to Senator – now President Elect – Obama! The election of an African-American man is a huge step forward for our nation.

    Your phrase “gay and lesbian brothers and sisters” resonated hugely with me, as my dear cousin Adrien came out as gay not long ago. Adrien was as close to me as a brother when we were kids – their family lived across the street from ours and we lived in each others’ pockets as well as in each others’ houses. It saddens me beyond measure that this terrible proposition could have passed in California. I cannot express what this defeat means to me – how could Americans be so close-minded? Here I had thought we had made strides in the acceptance of gays in our society. Apparently not.

  • http://dominicself.co.uk Dominic Self

    Although Obama will come into office with a very challenging and perhaps limiting set of economic circumstances, he will at least have a massive amount of international goodwill. There is a palpable sense of relief and gratitude that the nightmare of the Bush years are finally coming to an end and instead an intelligent, articulate and thoughtful President will lead America: I can’t expect to agree with his every future action, but at least such actions should feel considered and reasoned rather than the product of a scary and alien ideaology.

    But I wouldn’t want Americans reading this to think that foreigners somehow expect their President to cater for our needs over their own. What would thrill me most of all is if Obama succeeds in building a stable and electable coaltion in the States to achieve universal healthcare and (scary shock!) some wealth distribution, fortifies the Supreme Court for future challenges and generally rewards those who have just put their hope in him. That way, we’ll get a renewed United States able to effect long-term leadership on human rights, climate change and global prosperity.

    I still can’t quite believe it has finally happened though :D President Obama! How damn good does that sound?

  • Alex, FCD

    If there’s one silver lining in the Prop 8 debacle, it’s that voters ages 18-29 voted overwhelmingly against the measure, and they’ll be in charge soon enough.

  • Alex, FCD

    Oh, and my congratulations to President Elect Obama and to all his supporters. I think I speak on behalf of the majority of my fellow Canadians when I say “good call”.

  • Alex Weaver

    While it’s probably best not to hold out too much hope on prop 8, there’s apparently a significant number of votes yet to be counted due to absentee ballots and such, and the measure’s ahead by somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 votes.

  • Virginia

    I watched with awe the whole USA Election. I’d like to give you all my blessing for USA especially for President Elect Obama. USA are all ruined and damaged by the bad governance under Bush’s administration and USA become an unwelcoming presence — primarily due to its right winged ideologue mixed into a lethal dose with the greed of Corporate America — we want USA to become a world leader that unites, bridges, forster co-operation, rather than one which start wars, which divides, which burn bridges.
    It is indeed time for “change” !

  • Justin

    I look at it this way… I had sort of a 4-point wishlist for this election: Obama wins, Dole is defeated, Indiana goes Democrat and Prop 8 is defeated. I’m glad at least 3/4 of that happened. Total glass-half-full situation here.

    I wonder what the difficulty level is between getting voters to reject a gay marriage ban and getting voters to vote for a future resolution explicitly legalizing gay marriage. If the polls change enough in 2 to 4 years, a new proposition could legalize gay marriage in California.

    Like I said before, if it happens in California, it will happen elsewhere in the country. It’s just a shame that a ton more work and time will have to be put into making it happen.

  • john

    This McCain supporter congratulates pres. elect Obama, and atheists who feel this somehow furthers their cause, whatever that may be. I also congratulate the people of California for doing the obvious and keeping marriage in line with nature and thousands of years of tradition. A special thanks to the one and a half million Obama voters who also voted for prop 8.
    Obama has my wholehearted support – he’ll need it. Trying to keep 300 million people happy is difficult indeed.

  • Serenegoose

    A quick factual correction for John. Marriage (one person with one person, I refuse to define it entirely as you would like) is a very human thing. Few animals besides us are monoamorous. None are monogamous due to the lack of marriage in the animal world. Polyamory has actually been around for a lot longer (longer than humans), and as far as nature goes, tends to be the norm. So marriage (your definition thereof being synonymous with monogamy and will hence be used interchangeably) is not natural.

    Given the amount of human cultures that are polyamorous (that’s all of them, ever, even christian ones, I’ll explain in a second) your argument that it’s traditional standard practice in our culture is also bunk. Explanation for my reasons: Cheating is exceptionally widespread. I guarantee you it’s more widespread than you give it credit for because it is a subtle activity. You only know about it when it gets found out about. Socially accepted or not, cheating is a part of our culture and occurs across the globe in every culture. Millions of people have extra-marital affairs. Millions more never get married and an increasing number of humans, instead of getting caught up in the rat race of ‘I am emotionally attracted to several people but I must pick one because it’s the ‘done thing” and then end up emotionally unfulfilled and unhappy are just choosing open polyamory. I know I am and I love my partners very much. (note: not implying monoamory is in any way wrong or unsatisfying, just that humans have a natural capacity to love more than one person, and depending on the circumstances, may find it easier and more fulfilling with several partners as others may find it easier and more fulfilling to have just one.)

    The odds of you splitting up with your first love are high, that’s polyamory (definition: poly = many, amory = love) in action. You see, declaring a culture to be monogamous means nothing if the majority of its populace aren’t. Since most people have more than one partner during the course of their life, and don’t marry them and only them, they’re not strictly monogamous, much as they claim to be.

    Now to move onto your second claim. “Marriage in line with nature” is the phrase I’ll attack here again. Clearly you mean marriage ‘one man and one woman forever’ which is arbitrary and false because as I’ve stated, it is rarely ‘forever’. Of course, calling that ‘natural’ specifically implies all other relationship formats are un-natural. However, try this chain of logic.

    Humans are natural (of nature). Some humans are naturally homosexual (deny this all you like, the existence of so many happy homosexuals blatantly contradicts you). Homosexuality is therefore natural. If marriage is thusly ‘in line with nature’ then it should allow homosexual couples to marry.

    And beyond your points entirely, a little thinking exercise. What’s the point of tradition? what does tradition accomplish? why is it such an important concept? If you can give me an example of tradition -itself- being useful and not the message contained inside the wrappings of tradition being useful (like say, murder is bad is a fairly traditional value, but the tradition of murder being bad is not useful, just the message of murder being bad is.) Tradition is the most over-rated hulk of… nonsense… humanity has ever conceived, and to place traditions above ourselves is to me, simply, crazy.

    Ok, I guess this wasn’t as short as I’d like, but those who would rather obey meaningless irrational concepts rather help humans be happy earn my eternal contempt.

  • Tommy

    I live in California, and I’m gay, and I am very disappointed to have seen prop 8 pass. However, for me, there was a much more important victory: my mother, who had kicked me out of the house when I was a kid for being gay and being atheist, voted against prop 8. While she remains Christian, her vote for President-Elect Obama, and against prop 8 (as well as her reasoning- basic human rights issue), has been something I wished for and worked for for years, and seeing her growth and love overcome a lifetime of prejudice was one of the most moving experiences of my life. So much has changed! I am full of hope again, seeing young people in the San Gabriel Valley standing outside on street corners, holding no on 8 protests. These kids I saw are too young to vote for the most part, but the message is clear. Momentum and caring is building, and it is just a matter of time. Same sex couples have had two chances now to marry in California, and it’s only a matter of time, and lawsuits, before it sticks.

    What brought me to tears of joy was Obama’s acceptance speech, where he mentioned gay americans along with everyone else. Hearing that he was thinking of us at such an amazing time in his life, and in the history of our country, was one of the happiest and most wonderful things I have ever experienced.

    The process of progress is progressing, haha! Just keep at it, everyone, once people start thinking critically, it’s hard to stop them. The progress we make, we tend to keep.

  • Alex Weaver

    Some humans are naturally homosexual (deny this all you like, the existence of so many happy homosexuals blatantly contradicts you)

    Not to mention the existence of so many happily homosexual nonhuman animals.

  • StaceyJW

    Marriage, regardless of how it is defined, is a social convention. It has nothing to do with nature.

    It is a RELIGIOUS belief that marriage is only One Man, One Woman, with the Man as the head of the Woman, and god as the head of man. If you want to say that anti-Gay marriage laws are not religious, please look at why gay marriage is considered “wrong” in the first place- the biblical belief that gay relationships are a “sin and an abomination”.
    Because of this, the state has no business creating a law that enforces a completely religious rule. Freedom of religion means freedom FROM religion and its mandates- once you create a law that enforces one religions beliefs, you violate all other believers (or non-believers) rights.

    When Muslim leaders demand that secular(or non-Muslim)nations arrest and punish their own citizens for speaking negatively about Mohammad, those nations rightly refuse. How about being required by law (In the USA) to wear a veil because part of the population thinks it is a “sin” not to?
    No American would agree to follow the Muslim shariah law while an American living in America. But that same American has no problem banning gay marriage, which is no less religious than blasphemy against Allah, or the “sin” of an uncovered head. (It’s so obvious when its someone else’s religion making the demands…..)

    Who gets to decide what biblical rules are enforced? No one does, in a secular society. This protects all people, believers and non-believers.

    Gay marriage is a human rights issue, no more, no less.

    In a secular society, people have the right and ability to define and redefine their relationships. As society evolves, changes are made to the definition of “marriage” and “family”.

  • Alex Weaver

    I wonder if I can make the label “Jim Flamingo laws” stick…

  • Stephen

    If there’s one silver lining in the Prop 8 debacle, it’s that voters ages 18-29 voted overwhelmingly against the measure, and they’ll be in charge soon enough.

    I’ve just done some calculations. If that exit poll is representative, if new young voters conform to the ratio given there, if immigration/emigration doesn’t skew things, and if no-one changes their minds (yes, that’s a lot of ifs) then there will be a majority for same-sex marriage in 7 years time.

  • greentree

    I was also extremely disappointed over what happened in California. While Obama’s victory is of course something to celebrate, it was very much soured for me and, I would say, a lot of other people. I sometimes wonder how future generations will explain the apparent paradox in a country that’s willing to elect a black man as president while almost simultaneously reversing a pioneering step in human rights.

  • Stephen

    … a decisive repudiation of the past eight years of disastrous Republican governance

    I have to say I found that aspect disappointing. Even after eight years of appalling misrule, 47% of voters still voted for McCain/Palin (and 35% of the electorate didn’t bother to vote at all). Given Obama’s lead among non-whites and voters under 30, it means that McCain/Palin must have scored a substantial majority among whites over 30. Just how bad would a Republican president have to be to make that group wake up?

  • Valhar2000

    Serenegoose, social conservatives are generally authoritarian, in their opinions, actions, and outlook on life. People like that tend to view the world as a dangerous place, the past as an ideal glorious era, and the future as a degeneration of former goodness. Thus, tradition is a relic of the former goodness, and that is why it is so very important to preserve it.

    People like me, who tend to think that the future will be (or can be) better, see tradition as a chain that prevents us from reaching the better future.

    These differences in our psychology are very basic, and very fundamental, and very entrenched, and it wil take a lot of convincing to change them, becuase the urge to deny evidence to the contrary will be enormous (in most people).

    I used to see the passage of time as a process of decay when I was younger and more conservative. Interestingly, it was a book about the history of torture that was (inexplicably) featured in my school’s library that chnaged my mind about this, even though my mother was afraid it would have the opposite effect.

  • Alex Weaver

    I’ve just done some calculations. If that exit poll is representative, if new young voters conform to the ratio given there, if immigration/emigration doesn’t skew things, and if no-one changes their minds (yes, that’s a lot of ifs) then there will be a majority for same-sex marriage in 7 years time.

    Or a lot sooner if we make enough noise about it now.

  • Chris

    While California might be heading backwards, I’m happy to say that not all is gloomy on the gay front. Connecticut (home sweet home) just struck down a Constitutional Convention that would have tried to reverse the court decision to allow gay marriage. Now all we have to do is defeat a similar anti-marriage amendment in January, and I’ll be right there to piss on its grave.

    Now, if only Palin can take a long walk off a bridge to nowhere, I’ll be satisfied.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    To Chris’ good news, I’d add that Colorado has elected the first openly gay man (i.e., one who was known to be gay during his first campaign) to the House. His name is Rep. Jared Polis.

    And John, I’d advise you to get your gloating done while you can, because you won’t have long. Here’s the age breakdown of Prop 8 voters:

                  Yes   No
     18-29 (20%)  39    61
     30-44 (28%)  55    45
     45-64 (36%)  54    46
     65+   (15%)  61    39
    
  • john

    Too many replies,

    Somebody cited a wikipedia article on how homosexual behaviour is quite normal in the “nonhuman” world. Yep, sure, I see it all the time. Take a walk in the woods, and it’s all around you. Oh, Wikipedia, the authority on all things – if it’s in Wikipedia, it must be true. Spin spin spin. Oh for chrissake, I don’t hate gays, I just consider the behaviour rather bizarre, human and nonhuman, and yes, I think they may well have been born that way, which I find rather sad.

    I am not really gloating, like you, I believe that eventually we will have homosexual marriage. It will not be the end of the world for me. This world is so temporary. That being said, you point to these figures, and assume the future belongs to the homosexual. Here again we see what we want to see. I see, that as people mature, they come to understand that maybe, sometimes, oldtime social values might be important to preserve. Perhaps it is good that 35 years is the youngest a person can become president.

    The day will come when we, all of us, will share the same foxhole.

  • Alex Weaver

    Oh, Wikipedia, the authority on all things – if it’s in Wikipedia, it must be true

    Am I correct that you are seriously contending that an article on a public-access website, constructed so that any inaccuracies can be readily remedied by experts on the subject, with an extensive list of supporting citations from credible scientific sources, is less trustworthy than, say, the transcribed oral histories legends of a collection of ignorant, barbaric goat herders with delusions of past grandeur?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Oh for chrissake, I don’t hate gays

    Then why do you want to deny them equal rights?

  • bestonnet

    john:

    This world is so temporary. That being said, you point to these figures, and assume the future belongs to the homosexual. Here again we see what we want to see. I see, that as people mature, they come to understand that maybe, sometimes, oldtime social values might be important to preserve. Perhaps it is good that 35 years is the youngest a person can become president.

    Not really, what actually happens is that the previous progressive values become conservative due to the victory of the progressives.

    Those young voters aren’t going to be getting any more bigoted, just that their children will be less bigoted than they are (just as they are less bigoted than their parents).

    OMGF:

    Then why do you want to deny them equal rights?

    Seconded.

  • heliobates

    @john, who never gets tired of getting schooled, and never seems to learn anything.

    Did you bother to check the sources cited by the wiki article? Bruce Bagemihl’s book alone discusses occasional and recurring same-sex behaviour in over 450 species. And you really don’t have cause to look down your nose at wikipedia when you’re the one who believes something on the basis of a Washington Post headline.

    The day will come when we, all of us, will share the same foxhole.

    Doubt it. I’m too old to enlist. But on the off chance you’re right, then on that day there will be more than one atheist in there with you. Should put paid to that canard.

  • D

    @ Alex Weaver:
    Jim Flamingo laws it is! I’m going to start using that.

    Also, “Am I correct that you are seriously contending that an article on a public-access website, constructed so that any inaccuracies can be readily remedied by experts on the subject, with an extensive list of supporting citations from credible scientific sources, is less trustworthy than, say, the transcribed oral histories legends of a collection of ignorant, barbaric goat herders with delusions of past grandeur?” QFT. That was beautiful.

    I spent most of yesterday evening reviewing ballot measures, and there seem to be more good strikes than bad. Michigan appears to have loosened strictures on stem cell research, and also legalized medical marijuana; Massachusetts decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of weed (though you’ll forfeit the pot and pay a $100 civil fine if caught with it); Washington state passed Initiative 1000, legalizing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients; Colorado rejected Amendment 48, which would have struck a blow against the reproductive rights of everyone. The bad news seems to have mostly clustered around “teh gheyz,” with Prop 8 in CA, Prop 2 in FL, and Prop 102 in AZ (also, Initiative 1 in AR, preventing unwed cohabitors from adopting or providing foster care). This sucks in the short term, but hopefully we can get these Jim Flamingo laws repealed at the Federal level, and to Hell with the states who want to hold on to arbitrary tradition for no good reason.

  • lpetrich

    The supporters of Proposition 8 had some masterful demagoguery: Backers focused Prop. 8 battle beyond marriage (LA Times article)

    They were able to focus the debate on their assertion that without the ban, public school children would be indoctrinated into accepting gay marriage against their parents’ wishes, churches would be sanctioned for not performing same-sex weddings and the institution of marriage would be irreparably harmed.

    But Californians rejected Proposition 4, which would have mandates parental notification for abortion, by 52%-48%. And even the vote on Proposition 8 was an improvement over Californians’ vote on a similar proposition (Proposition 22) back in 2000: Gay marriage ban: A tale of two votes.

    The breakdown by counties is VERY interesting. Back in 2000, only the San Francisco Bay Area supported gay marriage, and only some of the counties of that area. But in 2008, all of the Bay Area now supported gay marriage, and the previous supporters there supported it by larger margins. Most of the rest of the state remained anti-gay-marriage, but the urbanized areas rejected it by much less margin than earlier, with Los Angeles County almost becoming a supporter. Even Orange and San Diego Counties rejected it noticeably less. Most of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire continued to oppose gay marriage at about the same rate, with Kern County’s opposition increasing a little bit.

    The LA Times also has breakdowns of California’s other races by county. Obama won big in the urbanized areas of northern and southern California; of those, he only lost in Orange County, and by 3%. Most of the Central Valley was pro-McCain, though the Inland Empire and San Diego supported Obama.

    And Proposition 4 lost in the Bay Area, the Sacramento area, and Los Angeles County, and won in the rest of the Central Valley, and south and east of LA, like in Orange County.

    Also, Colorado voters rejected a fetal-personhood amendment (Amendment 48) to their state’s constitution by 75% – 25%. However, I could not find a nice county-by-county map in the Denver Post, though I found some county maps in CNN’s election site. But one has to mouse over them to get the vote fractions — nothing like what the LA Times had done.

    The fetal-personhood proposition lost in every Colorado county, though by larger margins near Denver than in rural areas (CNN’s map page).

    And checking on the Hagan-Dole race in North Carolina (CNN’s map page), I found that Hagan consistently won in NC’s biggest cities, like Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem. However, some rural areas preferred Hagan, while some preferred Dole. Also, men and older people tended to prefer Dole, while women and younger people tended to prefer Hagan.

  • Stephen

    … you point to these figures, and assume the future belongs to the homosexual

    Where on earth did you get that bizarre idea? I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone, homosexual or otherwise, who thought that. What people here hope for, and are working for, is a future belonging to people who treat all other people fairly and not just those who resemble themselves.

  • john

    I don’t hate homos. They can “cite” any book they want. Go to the zoo, take a walk in the woods, and given a choice between a male or female, the male “nonhuman” will choose to relieve himself with a female. You can spin it anyway you want, but that is the very norm. I believe you consider yourselves skeptics. Why is it that everything you read, you believe. I’d almost be willing to bet Mr. Bagemihl is a homo, but a google search did not reveal this so I can’t say.

    Then why do you want to deny them equal rights?

    What right? Changing the definition of marriage is not a right. They can have their homosexual unions and enjoy the same priveleges of a heterosexual marriage. I have no problem with that. In my opinion, changing the definition of marriage would harm the meaning of a heterosexual marriage. This temporal world is not that important to me, but that does not mean I need to allow everything to happen without offering my support to the Body of Christ.(atheists, Muslims and others are in The Body of Christ, whether they believe it or not)

    Am I to assume that all atheists supported defeating prop 8?

    Helio – wait and see. You will not have to enlist. The U.S. will be tested. 9/11 was absolutely no surprise to me, 9/11 will be nothing compared to what will happen. Then all your perceived gains will vanish “like a fart in the wind.” People will do as they always do; they will go to church and draw into their families, just like what happened right after 9/11.

    “The unapparent connection is more powerful than the apparent one.”
    Heraclitus, 500BC(BCE)

  • Joffan

    Alex:

    I wonder if I can make the label “Jim Flamingo laws” stick…

    I’d go for “Jim Toucan”, both for the pun and the rainbow bill.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Thank God for John :7) What would we have to talk about without him?

    Anyway just a couple of comments.
    First congratulations to the US people for making a historic and above all rational choice for the next president. Like many Brits I feel strangely disenfranchised during US elections because the office is so powerful on the world stage but only Americans get to influence it; and it has to be said they have made some bizarre choices in the past.
    Secondly it is not so strange that CA would go Democrat yet pass prop 8. If Obama benefitted from the African American or Hispanic votes this demographic will vote Democrat (to do otherwise is like turkeys voting for thanksgiving) but they tend to be more religious and socially conservative than white Democrats. I suspect if the Republicans reached out to black and immigrant voters they would find a lot in common re faith and politics.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    John,

    I find your apparent anticipation of war disturbing.

    Secondly:

    You keep using words like “tradition”, “redefinition”, and “natural” in ways that don’t make any sense whatsoever.

    And if “marriage” is religious, than how did my little agnostic self get hitched? Why do I not worry about my marriage being devalued if more people can get it?

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    John

    Go to the zoo, take a walk in the woods, and given a choice between a male or female, the male “nonhuman” will choose to relieve himself with a female.

    You should take your own advice. You don’t have to watch Chimps (Bonobo’s especially),monkeys, dogs or rodents for long without seeing evidence of homoerotic behaviour. Besides which there is mounting genetic and developmental evidence for homosexuality as a normal (for which read “natural”, not “most common”) phenomenon.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Just to back up with some evidence for “natural” homosexuality here is a new scientist story covering one aspect.

  • heliobates

    Why is it that everything you read, you believe.

    A remarkably stupid tactic, given your own posting history. If it had appeared in a WaPo headline, then you’d automatically have to believe it, n’est-ce pas?

    I’d almost be willing to bet Mr. Bagemihl is a homo, but a google search did not reveal this so I can’t say.

    Calling someone a “homo” is all you have to refute a book-length argument you’ve never read. Bagemihl is certainly a “homo”, sapiens that is. You’re probably a “homo” yourself, but you never seem to get the hang of the “sapiens” part.

    Helio – wait and see. You will not have to enlist. The U.S. will be tested.

    I’m Canadian, dumbass. Zooming on every part of yourworld view
    finds beliefs exactly as wrong as your entire world view. You’re an axiomatic proof of fractal wrongness, and proud of it.

    “The unapparent connection is more powerful than the apparent one.”

    “Hide our ignorance as we will, an evening of wine soon reveals it.” ~ Heraclitus.

    Apparently you don’t need wine. Just a computer and access to the internet.

  • Leum

    John, as you well know, there is no traditional definition of marriage. Marriage has manifested itself throughout history as

    1. A business contract between two families.

    2. A man’s right to be the sole receiver of sex from a woman (concubinage).

    3. A legal relationship between one man and at least one woman (very popular among Biblical heroes).

    4. A legal relationship between one man and woman of the same race and class.

    5. A legal relationship between one man and woman.

    6. A legal relationship between two adults.

    All of these have been the de facto or de jure definition of marriage at some point in history, numbers 1-3 for a very long time, 1-4 for almost as long, and 5 for only the very skin of history (fairytales to to the contrary). Why should #5 be the one we choose, when the others are even more traditional?

  • Christopher

    I don’t know about where you people live, but down here there’s been no significant change: many of us still distrust our government, still have little hope for the economic mainstream (thus we formed an underground economy) and still struggle with those fucking illegals trashing and looting our properties at night. Things were chaotic here under Clinton and both of the Bush’s and I see no reason why Obama (or McCain for that matter – if he had won out in this goddamn puppet show) should make any real difference…

  • john

    Off topic, and maybe a bit humorous. It appears there is an oddsmaker taking bets on God’s existence.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/3374240/Paddy-Power-offers-odds-of-4-1-that-God-exists.html

    I too am interested in the LHC project, but in interest of scientific discovery.

  • Justin

    oldtime social values might be important to preserve. Perhaps it is good that 35 years is the youngest a person can become president.

    The reason we have a 35-year minimum, or at least why we should is to ensure a minimum level of competency in our President. Frankly, this doesn’t qualify as a “social” value in the strictest sense.

    The only “oldtime” values we should preserve are those that go towards upholding the security, equality and freedom of society. Legalizing gay marriage is a value that promotes this goal (all three parts of it). Mere “civil unions” are about as good as “separate but equal” and just as unacceptable even if they give couples the same benefits.

    Then all your perceived gains will vanish “like a fart in the wind.” People will do as they always do; they will go to church and draw into their families, just like what happened right after 9/11.

    What, you think accomplishments are worthless just because they don’t last forever? Would you count the McCain votes as a “fart in the wind?” The rest of us don’t feel the same way about the future and progress.

    I think that progress is happening and that the human race could grow in its maturity to the point that people no longer feel a need for God or excessive nationalism or other external validation in order to feel like there is a point to life. Life is what you make it.

    Nonetheless, I find it interesting that you consider tragedy a legitimate reason to believe in God. If somebody deconverts because of tragedy, do you give them the benefit of the doubt?

  • Christopher

    John,

    Off topic, and maybe a bit humorous. It appears there is an oddsmaker taking bets on God’s existence.

    The article involves taking bets on the existence of the Higgs Boson particle (a.k.a. the “god” particle) – not the literal existence of something that can be called a “god.” Get your facts straight!

  • heliobates

    Get your facts straight!

    You might as well pray for this. It will be just as effective.

    ;o)

  • Mathew Wilder

    @ heliobates: sometimes I think I read this blog just for your comments!

  • bestonnet

    john:

    What right? Changing the definition of marriage is not a right. They can have their homosexual unions and enjoy the same priveleges of a heterosexual marriage. I have no problem with that.

    So you have no problems with separate schools for blacks?

    Separate but Equal does not have a very good history and really should not be tried unless there’s no alternative (say aliens that can’t breath our atmosphere would need separate facilities).

    john:

    In my opinion, changing the definition of marriage would harm the meaning of a heterosexual marriage.

    In what way?

    None of the previous redefinitions have harmed marriage and actually seem to have helped it.

    john:

    Helio – wait and see. You will not have to enlist. The U.S. will be tested. 9/11 was absolutely no surprise to me, 9/11 will be nothing compared to what will happen. Then all your perceived gains will vanish “like a fart in the wind.” People will do as they always do; they will go to church and draw into their families, just like what happened right after 9/11.

    That increase in faith was very short lived so unless civilisation collapsed it would not take long for us to get back on track.

    If it were localised to the US though then the rest of the world would get by just fine even if the US become ultra-Christian.

  • Brad

    I was fairly confident Obama would win, I was fairly confident Democrats wouldn’t get 60 seats, and I was fairly confident Prop 8 wouldn’t go through. The latter really makes this bittersweet.

    To John: Hey, it seems you’ve sobered out a bit. I really do appreciate it!

    Anyway, I just wanted to make this clear, once again. The existence of homosexuality is normal; it is found in nature in a considerable number of animal species. However, homosexuality itself is an abnormal thing, similar to liking anime or having red hair. I’m not saying you or anybody else was wrong on this point, I just wanted to clarify it. I don’t quite know how much genes have a role in determining sexuality, but I am quite certain it is not up to “choice.” And lastly, although I do find it somewhat bizarre (which doesn’t predicate any dislike by any means), I am not sad for gays being that gay. I am sad for what results: social animosity and a small pool of understanding and like people.

  • Brad

    Ooo, scratch that. Never mind about appreciating the sober.

    John, all “rights” are agreed upon by the masses. No form of marriage is any right in and of itself (except with a special definition of “right”). Gays will have just as much a right to marry in the same way as heterosexuals if it is agreed upon. The necessary precondition for it being “agreed upon” is that it will be seen acceptable and preferable by a sufficient number of people with power/say in the government. The reason I think it should be agreeable is that it is intrinsically more fair than traditionally defined marriage.

    In my opinion, changing the definition of marriage would harm the meaning of a heterosexual marriage.

    Yes it will alter the meaning of marriage. And for the better, in my opinion. However, “heterosexual marriage” I think will stay the same.

  • Alex Weaver

    In my opinion, changing the definition of marriage would harm the meaning of a heterosexual marriage.

    Actually, I feel that if anything would devalue my marriage, it would be the commitment my wife and I made to each other being denied to other people who love each other just as much.

  • Alex Weaver

    I’d go for “Jim Toucan”, both for the pun and the rainbow bill.

    The reason for choosing “flamingo” is twofold: first, they’re one of the species in which John is sticking his fingers in his ears and LA-LA-LA-ing the observation of homosexual behavior, and second, being pink and all, they’re something stereotypically-minded Americans will immediately associate with gays, decreasing the number who will need the meaning of the expression explained to them.

  • Nightshadequeen

    The only way I think “civil unions” would work if the government decided to get completely out of marriage. Basically let everyone, man, woman, straight, gay, bi, human, animal, vegetable get a civil union together if both consent. (Granted, it’d be a bit difficult to get the consent of a animal or a vegetable…)

    @ john

    Then all your perceived gains will vanish “like a fart in the wind.” People will do as they always do; they will go to church and draw into their families, just like what happened right after 9/11.

    Er…this may be just me, but it sure sounds like you’re supporting another 9/11…

  • bestonnet

    Nightshadequeen:

    The only way I think “civil unions” would work if the government decided to get completely out of marriage. Basically let everyone, man, woman, straight, gay, bi, human, animal, vegetable get a civil union together if both consent. (Granted, it’d be a bit difficult to get the consent of a animal or a vegetable…)

    Getting consent from humans isn’t too hard and last I checked they were animals (and you left out intelligent computers and aliens that don’t come from Mexico).

    But anyway, all that would really be would be changing the name from “marriage” to “civil union”, nothing would actually change in such a case so there’s really no point playing such semantic game. As for how civil unions will actually work, they’ll just be renamed to marriage later on with a civil union possibly becoming something else or just an alternative terminology for those who don’t like marriage but want to marry anyway.

  • http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/ BruceA

    To an extent, I agree with Nightshadequeen. If the states stopped offering marriage licenses and started requiring civil union licenses for benefits like inheritance rights, family health care, etc., I think it would be a lot easier to extend those rights to partnerships other than “traditional” marriages.

    Of course, getting fifty states to stop endorsing “marriage” would probably raise more opposition than gay marriage does now, so I don’t think that’s the way to go.

  • DemonHype

    Fought with mom over that. First she makes that wonderful “separate but equal” argument (not in those words, of course, and I look forward to hurling them at her tomorrow), then starts asking “well, at what point do we let them fuck little kids? Hey, if the kid consents, then it should be okay”. And smirked in total obliviousness to her own stupidity as I, still reeling from the shock of hearing my mother say something that ignorant and evil, tried to explain to her the magnitude of her folly–and, of course, the magnitude of offensiveness in equating homosexuality with child molestation. Naturally, she thought my visible shock was some kind of win for her side on the issue, never mind that I’m not reeling because you brought up a good point that I couldn’t refute (far from it) but because I couldn’t believe the disgusting ignorance that was pouring out of her elderly mouth.

    Fuck, both my parents oppose gay marriage as “not normal” (no stronger reason than that they dont’ like it, really), yet in their own youth, back in the sixties, they argued with their own elders about how black people were equal and deserved the same consideration that white people deserved, and even defended the right of interracial couples to marry. They are otherwise quite liberal-leaning even now, but every so often something like this will break out, where they think the rights of another person should depend on whether or not they personally find the issue “icky”. “NO they do NOT have a marriage, I have a MARRIAGE, and THEY shouldn’t have the SAME THING that I have, because THEIR relationship is ABNORMAL”. Sorry, Ma, but I still fail to see how the marriage of those two gay guys somehow “hurts” or “diminishes” your marriage. And as for defending a stupid word, that’s what she said to me about “under God” in the pledge: “well, it’s just a word, it doesn’t really hurt you, can’t you jsut let us have it?” Well, if that’s your argument, can’t you just let them have marriage?

    Hell, she didn’t even WANT to get married herself but just shack up and my dad threw an ultimatum at her. And now she prides herself (PRIDES HERSELF!) on how not one of her three kids has any interest in committing to marriage with anyone–just like their ol’ Ma.

    Look, I love my folks and will be absolutely devastated when they go, but it’s times like this that I kind of look forward to the older generation dying off and taking their antique bigotries with them. I look forward to Prop 8 being defeated in the (possibly near) future, as the final relic of a fading homophobic minority that it is. I hope to be living in California at that time so I can proudly cast my ballot against the tyranny of the ignorant. Smirk all you want, Mom, but you’re going to lose in the end.

    Okay, that was mostly a big vent. I am pissed and will continue to be pissed about Prop 8. I’m thrilled over all the steps made in the right direction for once, with stem cell research and physician assisted suicide and decriminalization of pot–may those advancements continue, grow, and spread. And I am ecstatic about Obama’s win, though my nervouse headache ended with a full-blown migraine on Election Day and it took me until now to be able to really thrill over it. The first black president, while amazing, is the least of it. Imagine if in the 1930′s the Nazi’s had been outvoted and driven back by the German populace?

    (and if that’s how I viewed this election, can you blame me for having a nervous migraine?)

    That all said, can anyone point me to a place where I can get the straight-up, non-projected-but-definite new split of the House and Senate? I hear it went well and that Obama may well have the majority he needs to perhaps make a real difference. :)

    And isn’t it absolutely delicious how the Rethugs are spitting little blame-wads back and forth like the hateful little vipers they are? My my, they’re upset? Well, imagine how much worse it would be if the election had been stolen–by which I mean, now you know how I felt during the last two presidential elections.

  • Valhar2000

    John:

    Perhaps you will step up where so many other conservatives have run away: how will homosexual marriage damage heterosexual marriage? By what mechanism would legalizing marriage between same-gender couples result in damage to the marriages of heterosexual couples?

    I simply do not see, in any manner, shape or form, how the latter follows from the former, and I have never seen anyone, anywhere, even attempt to explain it. Everybody who uses this argument simply takes that as an axiom. Then again, I rarely see anybody ask this question, which I also find incomprehensible.

    So, John, if you are able to explain this to me, I am all ears.

  • Mikkel

    Christopher

    The article involves taking bets on the existence of the Higgs Boson particle (a.k.a. the “god” particle) – not the literal existence of something that can be called a “god.” Get your facts straight!

    Actually it is about betting on the literal existence of God. It’s just that the nickname “God Particle” has most people, including bookmakers, confused.

  • bestonnet

    Valhal2000, see http://bligbi.com/2006/06/30/10-reasons-gay-marriage-will-ruin-society/ (and probably quite a few others) for the reasons.

  • Judy

    My only thoughts on the election:

    Sure, Barack Obama is the first Black president, but he had to be raised by White people to get there!

    Hmmm …