Such a little word, so loaded with emotion.

Yes, the USA has done the supposedly unthinkable and put a black man in the white house, and the symbolic impact of that cannot be underestimated. But as for any further “yes we can”, we will have to wait and see. Mr. Scalzi has already made the necessary points, so all I need say is that Obama is taking charge at a particularly difficult time in his country’s history and he is going to find it hard to live up to his supporters expectations.

Yes, on the other hand, is also what the people of California (well, 52% of them, which is enough) are saying to Proposition 8, and as a result bigotry and hatred will be enshrined in the state’s constitution for many years to come. Several other states are also on their way to passing similar legislation. And this is where it becomes clear that effecting change is hard and slow.

One of the things you don’t get with election results is a breakdown by age band, but all of the polls suggest that if the vote had been left up to people under the age of 30 then Prop. 8 would have sunk without trace. Equally it was clear that one of the things that really motivated the Yes on 8 crowd was a desire to “protect” children, by which they meant stopping kids from growing up with a fair and open mind. It won’t work. In 30 years time, all of this will seem like a bad dream, and the USA will be celebrating the election of its first openly lesbian president.

For now, however, there are around 36,000 people whose marriages will be under threat from religious extremists determined to have those marriages retroactively annulled. Back to the barricades. Can we stop them? Yes, we can.

Update: The Chronicle has exit poll data. They say that 60% of voters under 30 opposed Prop. 8, while 60% of voters over 65 were in favor of it. That’s a demographic trend if ever I saw one.

Update 2: Fixed the typo in Update 1 (thanks Marcia!). Also Kameron Hurley has some wise things to say about why people voted Yes on 8.

7 thoughts on “Yes

  1. I’m confused about your update. What is the actual difference between people being opposed to Prop. 8, and people who were against it. Surely opposed and against are the same thing? And for the record, I think the people trying to pull this retroactive crap are crazy.

  2. Daniel: That’s not a trend, it is a single data point. As far as I am aware, exit polls have shown black and Hispanic people heavily pro 8, but Asians against it. That doesn’t mean that there is some great ethnic issue in play here. I think you are just as likely to find that poor people are more pro 8 than rich people, and that poor people are more likely to be preyed on by religious extremists than rich people. If Mr. Obama can work some magic on American society, we’ll see a lot more black and Hispanic people on our side.

  3. If anything, I am really disappointed in those who organized the No on Prop 8 campaign. From what I understand, the Yes campaign was hugely subsidized by the Mormon church in Utah. The two points that really bothered me about Mormon involvement was

    1. The Mormon church advocates polygamy. The only reason they don’t practice it more (remember that compound in Texas?) is because of secular law.

    2. The funding came from out of state.

    The No on Prop 8 campaign never exploited these points.

    There was also a lot of misinformation spread about that lesbian ceremony Gavin Newsom performed.

  4. Adrienne:

    Officially, the LDS church — that is, the big, official one with that big old temple in Salt Lake City — no longer advocates polygamy. There are Mormon offshoots — radicals, not supported by the LDS church — that still engage in the practice. There are lots of reasons for complaining about the Mormon involvement in the Prop 8 campaign, but we can’t legitimately say that the organization that pushed its members hard to donate to the Yes on 8 campaign also officially endorses plural marriage.

  5. The Mormons may not openly advocate it, but from what I understand, it was a strong tenet of the religion. I’m sure it’s only pressure from outsiders that made them drop it.

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