Mixed emotions

[Wren pads into the living room and sits down in her favorite overstuffed leather chair, the one that’s so big and plumphy her feet don’t quite touch the floor when she sits down. It makes her feel like a little girl. The chair is snuggly. She sips from the big mug of hot coffee she brought with her and sighs with pleasure as the steam clouds her glasses. To her left, the woodstove blazes, radiating cozy, welcome heat into the chilly room. Wren puts her feet up on the ottoman and covers her legs with an old throw. The cat hops up and fits himself between her ankles, his chin on Wren’s shinbone, his paws tucked beneath him. It’s fairly early in this clear, crispish, deep autumn morning; the sun is up but still stretching, the birds that haven’t already headed south for the winter are yelling at each other in the trees, and for the first time this season the temperature outside has dipped down into the mid-30s overnight.]

Hi there.

Did you hear? Last night, Americans chose Barack Obama to be their next President. I know – I shouldn’t say it too loud. I’ll jinx it. But I woke up this morning with these words: “Obama is President!” on my mind, and all the time I was feeding the dog, building the fire in the woodstove, boiling fresh water for coffee and considering (and rejecting) cold pizza for breakfast, the words danced through my head, providing breathless, giddy background music to my sleepy morning activities: “Obama is President. Hey! Obama is President!”

Yes, I know. He’s really President-Elect. He has to wait – we have to wait – until January 20, 2009, before he can take office. I’d like it better if he could just take over right this minute, since we all know that the President-Reject, George W. Bush, is doing his gol’-damndest to further fuck America before a disgusted history can drag him, grinning like a brainless maniac, off the world stage.

I must try to be patient. Obama needs this time to prepare for his new job. After nearly two solid years of campaigning, I bet he’d love a week or two at home, doing nothing much at all. He could sleep in, play with his daughters, eat homemade waffles and read a good book as the burnt-orange autumn afternoons fade to cold winter gray. He’s worked hard. He deserves a little time.

President Barack Obama. President Obama. Wow. A Democrat. And just in time. Bush and the Republicans nearly pushed the whole country off a cliff. Even now, with Obama representing our last, best hope, we’re teetering on the edge. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

And now, checking out the latest news, I discover that California’s Proposition 8 has passed, 52 to 48 percent.

As happy as I am that Obama won the presidency, this makes me equally as sad. And angry, too. It’s simply terrible news.

For those of you who haven’t been following California’s peculiar politics this election season, Prop Hate fixes in the state constitution that the only marriages that are or can ever be legitimate in California are those in which men marry women. In banning single-sex marriage, Prop Hate strips away, once again, the right of gay couples to marry under the law in California. It was only in May this year that the California Supreme Court finally declared the ban on single-sex marriage unconstitutional. Getting to that decision took years.

And now? Back to square one.

We took historic steps yesterday in this country when we voted for a young, mixed-race African-American man to become President of the United States of America. It was huge. Bigoted preconceptions were also shattered when Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination for President and later, Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate in his Republican bid for that office. Imagine: Women in positions of high power in America. Now, I believe Palin was a reprehensible choice for Vice President because of her general lack of experience and stunning lack of intellect, but I was heartened, nevertheless, that she was chosen at all. Next time, gender and race won’t be the deciding factor in a race like this.

And yet, right here in good ol’ fruity, nutty, progressive, liberal California, many of the same people who voted with hope in their hearts for Obama also voted to coldly strip away a basic civil right – the right to marry whomever one pleases – from a minority. This makes our gay neighbors and co-workers, friends, acquaintances and family members … what? Less than equals? Less than citizens? Less than human?

As an American, I’m pleased and relieved at Obama’s historic win. As a Californian, I’m ashamed of my state for its continued, inexplicable, backwards bigotry and support of inequality, which was very well funded and fueled by those “good Christian” purveyors of hate in our midst.

Across the nation, Americans have taken a huge step forward and a few big steps backwards since yesterday morning. It looks like we still have a long way to go.

And President Obama. Oh, my.

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10 Responses to “Mixed emotions”

  1. This morning, the birds chirped a little more sweetly, the wind sighed through the trees just a little more romantically, and the window-shattering scream I emit when I remember who and where I am was a few decibels quieter.

    A sweet morning indeed.

  2. I’m still trying to figure out how a state that goes 60% for Obama votes FOR prop 8 on the same ballot.

  3. Neddie: My sentiments exactly. And … HI!

    Bubs: The Prop Hate vote surprised me, too. But I hear that it’s possible — just barely — that it might not pass after all. Nearly 4 million absentee and provisional votes have not yet been counted. My fingers are crossed. There’s a chance hate will lose this one after all.

  4. Neddie: My sentiments exactly. And … HI!

    Bubs: The Prop Hate vote surprised me, too. But I hear that it’s possible — just barely — that it might not pass after all. Nearly 4 million absentee and provisional votes have not yet been counted. My fingers are crossed. There’s a chance hate will lose this one after all.

  5. robin andrea Says:

    As a Californian, I felt the same way: how could we vote 60% for Obama and vote to ban gay marriage? It doesn’t make sense. I’ve been reading that there will be court challenges right away. Good.

    But Obama’s win softens even that terrible news about Prop 8. I’ve never felt more elated about an election outcome in my life. It’s been a long journey since I cast my first vote for George McGovern. Last night, we closed the door on the past and opened a new one to a future we can hardly begin to imagine. A bright, eloquent, intellectually curious, Constitutional scholar in the White House. Does it get any better?

  6. Finally the nightmare of GWB’s misadministration will end. We must help Obama in any way we can to try to rescue this thoroughly trashed and bankrupted nation.

    At least now there is a possibility – and Hope.

  7. MichaelBains Says:

    Prop H8. Yep. No other reason to want such a ridiculous law.

    GObama!!! Can’t wait to vote for him again. 🙂

    (Thanks for your very nice notes, Wren. Again, is just teh Big D. I’ll live. See ya!)

  8. Things have been… well… the way things are. And resolutions to things are… well… what resolutions to things are. And my resolution has been to visit my damned blogroll and reestablish… things.

  9. I know. I was on a Obama and Blue Ohio cloud when I got the word about prop hate. It makes no sense, and it definitely shatters my illusions about California. We’re protesting at our local courthouse tomorrow. I’m taking my daughter. I can’t do much, but I can do that much.

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