Posts Tagged ‘gay rights’
Months and years of campaigning, more than$2.2 billion in election spending, over 100 million votes cast… and Americans in their wisdom decided to essentially maintain the status quo. President Obama returns to the White House for a second mandate. The Senate stays blue; the House stays red. But lest anyone was thinking that this whole thing was a giant waste of time, remember that it beats the hell out of the alternative.
I was on a plane for most of the evening, and while I was able to watch the results come in on satellite TV (thanks, WestJet!), I didn’t have internet access so no liveblogging of results. It was like a throwback to the pre-Web 2.0 years when you actually had to rely on traditional media sources for information. Well, unless you’re Barack Obama, author of the Tweet heard around the world.
The big vote
The race was close all night, but the nail-biter didn’t materialize. While both candidates were neck-and-neck in the popular vote for much of the evening, most of the highly contested swing states went one by one to Obama: New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia were called one by one for Team Obama. You could see the wind go out of the sails in the Romney camp as each one was declared, but Ohio finally solidified things shortly after 11pm ET. At that point, it was all over but the fat lady, whose singing will be heard in Florida just as soon as all those folks standing in line have a chance to vote.
So what happened to give the Obama team such a wide margin of victory, despite a 7.9% unemployment rate and widespread anger and disillusionment with the status quo?
“The United Nations is a wonderful idea in principle, except for the little problem of giving barbarians a vote.”
That’s courtesy of PZ Myers, in a blog post WTFing the UN’s move to remove sexual orientation from a resolution that protects people from being summarily executed. In other words, according to the UN, it’s okay to kill gay people for no reason. Which, obviously, must make perfect sense to the vast majority of backwards, human rights-abusing, Israel-bashing, hyopcritical members of the corrupt-to-irrelevance UN. Anyone still taking them seriously at this point has got to be smoking something strong.
- The rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, who have been underground for 69 days, is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. As of right now, two of the miners have been rescued so far, in a slow and emotionally-charged process.
- An American federal judge has issued an injunction against the US military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, which effectively ends the policy and allows gay Americans to serve openly in their country’s military. It’s about time. The US Justice Department has 60 days in which to file an appeal, however, and the Obama Administration may be forced to do so, thanks to the timing of the midterm elections.
- Closer to home, Canada has lost its bid for a UN Security Council seat, in an embarrassing debacle that has Harper and Iggy pointing fingers at one another. As usual, there are accusations that it was because Canada is “too pro-Israel“, whatever that means. (In the UN, that typically means anyone who doesn’t pander to Arab nations’ crazed Israel-hatred. But we all knew that.)
- The Halak-less Habs are 1-1 so far this season, after an exciting win against the Pens on Saturday night. For what it’s worth, Halak is 2-0 in St. Louis so far.
Texas’ gay marriage ban may have banned all marriages
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.
The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that “marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:
“This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”
Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively “eliminates marriage in Texas,” including common-law marriages.
There’s some sort of metaphor here about how bigots who live in glass houses shouldn’t try to circumvent people’s rights or something. Rather than try to find the words for it, I think I’ll just have a good laugh.
As I watch the US presidential campaign unfold, it’s easy to feel a bit smug. Our election issues are – on the whole – pretty boring, mostly because things are – on the whole – pretty good here. Not to discount the importance of Arctic sovereignty or softwood lumber tariffs or anything. But compared to some of the issues before Americans, our elections are downright tame.
Here are the top 5 issues being hotly debated south of the border that are thankfully not really on the radar screen in our election:
- The war in Iraq. Because, well, we’re not actually fighting in it. The war in Afghanistan is, of course, an issue here, but it’s not nearly as divisive as Iraq is for Americans.
- Terrorism and national security. Canadians are just plain less worried about this issue than Americans are, no matter what side of it they are on. Whether it’s because we’re more rational or more naive, the fact is that most Canadians don’t really believe that there is an imminent threat of terrorism, and the issue really isn’t showing up in our election discourse.
- Gay marriage. It’s been legal nationwide since 2005. Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have tied the knot in Canada, our wedding industry has benefited from an influx of marriage “tourists” from the US, and everyone else basically yawned and went on with their lives. Even Stephen Harper isn’t bothering to rehash the issue in this campaign, recognizing the futility of beating a dead horse.
- Abortion. Yeah, there have been a few rumbles, which have mostly consisted of scare-tactics by the Duceppe camp against Harper – who has stated that he has no plans to re-open the issue. As explosive as the issue is in the US election, here, it’s basically a non-issue, just as it has been in virtually every Canadian election campaign since the 1970s.
- What our candidates look like. While Americans choose between their first-ever African-American president and their first-ever female VP, us Canadians have an election that’s about the candidates’ politics and not about their skin colour or background. Of course, that’s because they’re all a bunch of white guys (except for Elizabeth May). But I suspect that even if our PM candidates were a bit more representative of the country, we’d still manage to talk less about their skin colour or gender than the Americans do. Besides, Kim Campbell won’t exactly go down in history as a great Canadian leader, but I’d still rather have her than Sarah Palin any day.
The economy is, without a doubt, the #1 voting issue for both Americans and Canadians. As it should be. Polls have shown that the other top election issues for Canadians are healthcare, the environment and poverty. We can hopefully expect these issues to dominate tonight’s debate, and the above issues to hardly rate a mention.
Sometimes, it’s good to be Canadian.
Some rare insight from a columnist who I usually disagree with, the Gazette’s Janet Bagnall:
Palin is a true-blue representative of her party. She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and against gay marriage. Her opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape and incest. The women who backed Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the nomination for presidency don’t generally ascribe to those values.
[ . . . ]
Tokenism is an insult, an insidious one whose effects are difficult to erase over time. People will forget that there were other options on the Republican table, capable, long-serving, proven women like Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas – and that McCain ignored them in favour of doing something headline-grabbing. That effect is already starting to wear off. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll this week found, “Three quarters of all voters think McCain chose a female running mate specifically because he thought adding a woman to the Republican ticket would help him win in November.”
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with the otherwise politically-savvy selection of Palin. Choosing a candidate solely because she’s a woman is no better than systematically denying opportunities to qualified people because they are women.
And while McCain no doubt sees Palin’s stance on issues like abortion and gun control as qualifications, not drawbacks, given the socially conservative voters he’s trying to attract, the fact remains that Palin is much less qualified than the myriad other choices that McCain had – of both genders. She was chosen for her youth (to contrast McCain’s age) and her gender, proving that tokenism is no better than discrimination, after all.
Parliament voted to uphold legalized gay marriage today, defeating a motion introduced by the Harper government to appease their right-wing base:
“We made a promise to hold a free vote and we kept that promise. The result was decisive and we’ll accept the democratic result,” Harper told reporters.
Legislators voted 175 to 123 to reject a motion by the right-leaning Conservatives to re-examine the law, which some religious groups and critics say undermines society.
This motion was defeated by an even wider margin than that by which the initial law was passed last year (158-133), indicating that most of the country believes that this has already been decided, and it’s pointless to keep drumming it up. Same-sex couples have had the threat of the law being reversed hanging over their head ever since Harper took office, so hopefully this means that everyone can now get over the issue and move on to things that actually matter.
Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Nobody seems to know for sure what the results of a vote on whether to re-open the gay marriage debate in Parliament will mean, other than that Stephen Harper will notch one more promise onto his belt that he can claim to have kept.
I suppose the Tories need to do this, get past it, and get on with things; Harper is probably even secretly grateful that it’s likely they’ll lose. Despite his personal convictions, the last thing he wants is a divisive fight on the issue and lengthy court battles. Then again, the timing makes me wonder whether he’s just trying to mobilize his conservative base ahead of an election.
In any case, the motion will probably be easily defeated. Here’s hoping people can get over it at that point and get on with things, and that they don’t allow this to devolve into a neverendum-referendum situation. The Quebec sovereignty issue is already one thing too many that refuses to go away. We don’t need another.
The sweeping gains made by Democrats tonight only tell half the story. There were also a number of issues votes that, if nothing else, indicate that the country is feeling more anti-Bush right now than pro-Liberal. For example:
- Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage won approval in South Carolina, Tenessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, with similar amendments on the ballot in 4 other states also expected to pass once the votes are tallied. This would mean that a total of 28 states – more than half – will have banned gay marriage in the U.S., delivering a serious blow to the hopes of people in favour of equality and civil rights.
- Arizona passed measures against illegal immigrants, including making English the state’s official language.
On the other hand:
- Missouri passed a measure to guarantee stem cell research would be permitted.
- South Dakota’s voters rejected an attempt to restrict abortion in the form of proposed legislation.
Some analysts have further noted that, though Democrats made significant gains, they may have done so at the expense of ideology, since many of the newly-elected Democrats are much more moderate than Liberal while many of the defeated Republican incumbents were on their party’s more moderate wing. So the House (and possibly the Senate) may have shifted to the left, but both parties actually shifted to the right in the process.
What will it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.