Amendment 2, Redux

So whilst there was lots to celebrate this week—like the election of Obama, the removal from office of Liz Dole, Marlyn Musgrave, and, with any luck, Norm Coleman—there were also some disappointments, like the election of Convicted Felon Ted Stevens and failure of San Francisco’s Proposition R.

And then there was California Proposition 8.

Which passed.

It nullifies existing marriages and prevents future marriages.

Hate, funded by the Mormons.

And it is, for me, a strange replay of 1992. Back then I was a freshman at the University of Wyoming and a huge Clinton believer. I was one of those who truly believed in Clinton’s message and campaign. I’d volunteered during the summer to help his campaign in Colorado and then went to school in Wyoming. I voted absentee for Clinton and against Amendment 2.

That year there was a strange confluence of events—a much disliked war led by a much disliked George Bush made it an uphill campaign for the Republicans. Add in one true maverick, Ross Perot, and Clinton became president-elect. It was an emotional high—perfection—much like, I imagine, what Obama supporters experienced in Chicago Tuesday evening.

Unfortunately the news was not all good for Amendment 2 passed, an amendment to the Colorado Constitution that stated:

Neither the state of Colorado, through any of its branches or departments, nor any of its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities or school districts, shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of, or entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination. This Section of the Constitution shall be in all respects self-executing.

With immediate effect, anti-discrimination ordinances in Denver, Boulder, and Aspen were unconstitutional. Colorado for Family Values, a conservative religious group based in Colorado Springs had convinced the people of Colorado that equal rights for gays and lesbians wasn’t a good idea. It made it legal to fire people because of their sexual orientation.

Although the implementation of Amendment 2 was prevented by doubtful courts, the damage was done. Colorado was a state of hate. It took almost four years before Amendment 2 was declared to be in violation of the US Constitution in a 6-3 ruling. The justices ruled that Romer v. Evans that

Its sheer breadth is so discontinuous with the reasons offered for it that the amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.

Now Prop 8 is a whole different ballgame—time will tell if it withstands a court challenge or if it withstands another vote in 2010—but it evokes the same kind of bittersweet emotional response.

Yes there is an idealistic, optimistic, good President-elect, but for those living in California, it is bittersweet.

A whole class of people lost a right simply because they are gay.

4 comments to Amendment 2, Redux

  • What makes me truly angry about Prop 8 is that the black community voted for it by a wide margin, yet gay people voted overwhelmingly for the “black” candidate for President.

    I guess when blacks achieved legal civil equality the door closed behind them.

    My thanks go out to the “Governator” for being against this proposition. Perhaps he and Senator Lugar should form a new party?

    Fortunately, the payback for this Mormon (moron) financed measure is that someday soon Utah will fall out of the political control of the Mormon church when enough non-mormons move in.

  • koko

    I recently got into a debate with one of my mormon friends about prop 8 (via a note on his facebook). I simply cannot and will not ever understand this hateful, disrespectful, elitist attitude towards gays. I am extremely frustrated with the outcome of prop 8. I always am left thinking “gee that’s super christian of you to hate”.

    Apparently they didn’t get the memo:

  • What makes me truly angry about Prop 8 is that the black community voted for it by a wide margin, yet gay people voted overwhelmingly for the “black” candidate for President.

    CQ, you make it sound like there should have been some kind of back-scratching arrangement — like blacks didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

    I know you’re a Cynical Queer™ and all, but I hope you can see that Obama has his own merits independent of marriage rights in California and his blackness, and that Proposition 8 was wrong no matter who got your vote for President.

  • @CQ: I wouldn’t tie gays voting for Obama (who happens to be black) with blacks voting for gays…. These things need to stand on their own two feet. Besides, would you have ever seriously considered voting for McCain? Obama isn’t perfect on GLBT issues, but he’s a hell of a lot better than McCain.

    What we’ve learned is that (1) the Yes on 8 was well organized and funded; (2) the No on 8 was not well funded and disorganized; and (3) we need to do to educate people. This isn’t an obvious issue for most people.

    @Koko: Not to mention all the Christians who are on a crusade to convert Muslims — whatever happened to live and let live. I don’t mind you talking about your religion as long as (a) I don’t have to listen; and (b) it’s not imposed.

    @cliff: I’m with you…