One Step Forward, One Step Back

by Jacob Batchelor | 11/12/08 4:00am

In Jordan Osserman '11's pre-election piece "An Indecent Proposal" (Nov. 3), he argues that in all the fervor for Obama's campaign, another "equally historic battle" was being forgotten. Now, a week after arguably the most progressive election cycle in our nation's history, we are forgetting about the battle we lost.

A quick perusal of the top news web sites will return a surprising dearth of information on the passage of the most anti-progressive proposition our country has seen since Jim Crow. Proposition 8 -- the Californian proposal to implement a moratorium on gay marriage -- sought to overturn the California Supreme Court's decision to expand the right of marriage to gay citizens. The passage of Prop 8 was the darkest failure in a day of so many bright victories.

The issue of gay marriage plays upon the illogical prejudices and fears of the common people. Pro-ban propagandists in California spent almost $36 million to convince the electorate that marriage between two people who love each other is wrong. While this is a simplification, it is a true one. Allowing gays to have the same rights as a heterosexual couple will not somehow degrade society's morals and kill the beauty of the marriage institution; if anything, it will enhance that beauty. Those who said no to Prop 8 raised even more money -- $37 million -- to remind the electorate of one of the founding ideals of our nation: that we are all created equal. The outpouring of money and passion shows how much people still believe in this maxim and how hard they will continue to fight for equality for all. When the votes were all tallied, however, our nation and the world saw that fear won.

In California, the 16,000 gay couples who rushed to be wed in the months following the Supreme Court's decision face an uncertain future. While many in the California judicial system believe that Proposition 8 does not constitute ex post facto legislation, there is little constitutional protection for gay marriage against attempts to undo them. As for the future gay couples who want to be married, Proposition 8 has more certain consequences.

For the foreseeable future, gay marriage rights have taken a devastating blow. Though a state constitutional challenge has been filed against Prop 8's implementation in California, the issue will most likely have to wait for another proposition during the next election cycle. Nationwide, advocates for gay rights saw one of the most progressive states deny the most fundamental right a couple can have. This hit cannot be taken lightly.

We cannot allow the issue of gay marriage to slip from the public limelight. Though Obama has so much promise for progressive thinking and legislation in America, we cannot pass the torch to him and expect all of our problems to be solved -- he has a lot on his plate. The issue of gay rights is most likely to be solved on the state level first. That means you and I need to continue to strive for equality.

I don't care if you are gay, straight, black, white, Asian, Native American, conservative, liberal, international, Christian, Muslim or whatever. If you believe in love, you should continue to fight for homosexuals' right to marriage. It's an issue, along with so many others, that is easy to forget about if it doesn't directly affect you. However, after basking, or cursing I guess, in the aftermath of the election, it is time to get back to work. Obama says "Yes we can" for a reason. He cannot bring about the change we've been so excited about by himself. Conservative or liberal, without the outpouring of support and hard labor we all put into the election, nothing in our society will change. The march towards equality is unstoppable and continuous, but it only happens on the backs of people who give a damn.

Change comes from the ground up. We're the ground. Let's get going.