From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
"Please, sir, may I have another?"
The lesson we learned last night in Maine is pretty simple: if you want to deny the right of gay people to get married, just put it to a popular vote. Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut---I believe they'd all vote it down, too, if given the opportunity. Let's not kid ourselves...this is gay marriage. And to well over half the people in this country in late 2009, you might as well call it pig vomit.
No minds were changed here over the course of the last five months. If the 'No' campaign had been tougher and the 'Yes' campaign had been softer, the result would've been the same. And that is to say: dead wrong. But we are a country that is dead wrong about a lot of things, especially on social issues. We love our comfort zones. We love the status quo. We love that all people are created equal, but not actually them equal. Things is good enough the way they is. That's a tough nut to crack.
To many in this state, we have just insulated ourselves against having to see two dudes in wedding dresses charge down the aisle of their local church singing, "Here Comes the Bride" and then racing to the local kindergarten to continue the gay recruiting process. (Gotta indoctrinate 'em while they're young, y'know---we learned that by watching organized religion.) They have just voted to avoid something icky. You can pick apart the campaign strategies and tactics seven ways to Sunday, but you'll always come back to that fact: fifty three percent of voters didn’t vote 'Yes.' They voted 'Ick.' And it is the 'Ick factor' (call it the gay version of the so-called "Bradley Effect") that confounded the number crunchers. It's easy to overlook---but it's very real and can be counted on to add a minimum of 3-5 points to the other team's scoreboard.
People are asking---wisely, from a safe distance---how Michael and I are feeling today. We're bummed, of course. When half a million people barge into your home, raid your fridge, drain your liquor cabinet ( happy about that), jump up and down on your sofa, and then announce they've decided you can't become a dues-paying member of their club because you're a little too weird for their taste, it stings a bit. But this isn’t the first time our civil rights have been yanked from us by our neighbors, and it may not be the last.
And yet---here comes the golden ray of sunshine---I'm HOPEFUL! In fact, it is for me to get too down about this. First, what's done is done. Second, Bacardi---it’s what's for breakfast. And third, 47 percent of Mainers are cool with gay marriage---that's as high as it's ever been, and it ain't goin' down. Which leads me to my next paragraph.
This morning the words of America's first openly-gay Episcopal Bishop, V. Gene Robinson---who has endured bigotry of the worst kind, including an assassination attempt---are soothing my savage manboobs. Robinson visited Portland several weeks ago to talk about Question 1. He raised the all-too-real possibility that things wouldn’t go our way this time. And now that the results are in and the vote go our way, his words are helping me this morning. A lot.
He said that we've already won this fight, it's just a question of timing. Here's what he means. Look at this result from last night, courtesy of Adam Bink at Open Left. It is the only thing I've shed tears over this morning, and they are happy ones:
Final numbers are in from [University of Maine]-Orono campus- 81% No, 19% Yes.
A 'No' vote was a vote to keep the same-sex marriage law in place. Look at that: 81 percent No, 19 percent Yes. That's the future of gay rights in America. It's coming. It's on our doorstep. It's just a matter of time. All Schubert-Flint and NOM and the Catholic church did last night was kick the can down the road a bit. As Bishop Robinson said:
"We're in this for the long haul. Keep your energy up and your focus clear. We can be in it for the long haul because we how this is gonna end: full equality."
Or, to quote Dan Savage:
"It's like 'Gay Survivor,' we're going to outlive, outlast, and outsmart the bigots."
Don’t think for a second that they don’t know it. And don't think for a second that, despite their smiling faces this morning, it doesn't haunt their dreams.
So that's where I am this morning. Thank you so much for your support and kind comments. A full C&J returns tomorrow, but below the fold is a look back at our reaction when history of another kind was made one year ago today as---say it with me, teabaggers!---Barack Obama destroyed the hapless Palin/McCain ticket to become the first African-American president of the United States. That's worth re-celebrating. That's worth smiling about.
Cheers and Jeers enters the wayback machine in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Cheers and Jeers Flashback---Election Day: November 4, 2008
>> The new President-elect of the United States. Hey, pundits! Whose resume is thin now?
>> The word of the day: "Punishment." Republicans: you earned it.
>> Democratic senators-elect Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO), Kay Hagan (God's side-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA---the state now has two Democratic senators for the first time since the appearance of cave drawings). The Gordon Smith/Jeff Merkley race is, I believe, still a toss-up in Oregon, as is (unbelievably) Alaska's race between a popular Anchorage mayor and a convicted felon. And Al Franken may yet pull out a win in Minnesota, which would be cool because it would render Bill O'Reilly permanently mute. At any rate, no more excuses, Harry Reid---for six years the Republicans did far more with a far smaller majority than the one you'll enjoy starting in January. Get busy.
>> Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com, for bursting on the poll-watching scene untested and coming through with flying colors. Also the Kos-commissioned Research 2000 polls, which hit the mark. Bradley Effect: RIP.
>> John Williams. After Barack Obama's incredible acceptance speech, the jubilance was buoyed by the staunchly-Democratic film composer's music. As if to tweak the noses of all those who peddled smears and lies against Obama for the better part of two years, the music thundering from the speakers was Williams' theme from...The Patriot.
New Blue England. Wow---thanks to the vanquishing of Rep. Chris Shays in Connecticut, there will be zero Republican congressman from the northeast when the 111th Congress convenes in January. I can live with that.
>> >> Proposition 8. Even in the face of iron-clad, incontrovertible proof that gay marriages won’t do diddly to straight marriages, Californians proved last night that they could be persuaded by Utah---yes, polygamist Utah!---to hit themselves over the head with the dumbstick and make inequality and discrimination constitutional. Think about that: many of the same voters who chose to tear down the ultimate barrier (the presidency) for one minority voted to create a barrier against another. Gee, thanks for the whiplash. If there is any silver lining it is this: civil unions will continue to be approved at the state level across the country, and the federal government now has the muscle to pass some gay-friendly bills (and repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). Oh, and it's worth reminding ourselves, no matter how bitter we feel this morning: civil rights struggles are always a marathon, not a sprint.
>> CNN's holograms. Sorry, guys...one special effect too far.
>> Michele's dress. Eek---that's a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, Ma'am. I trust my honesty won’t affect my future invitation for a sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom?
>> The noble opposition. Granted, the front pages of most of the right-wing blogs were magnanimous in defeat, but some of the commenters were their usual selves. A tiny, tiny, tiny sample:
The Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers?
Well, the MSM got their guy in. Caveat Emptor, MFers.
oprah is crying. Bet her tears are sulfuric acid. She's the real evil one.
I think I need to go the Free Clinic: I just got screwed!
I do not feel anything but dread. The Israelis face Armeggedon and or America the barbarians are in the gates. I fear the baying mob. I fear Fruit of Islam thugs and roving gangs of "youths."
But at least one of 'em got it right: "I blame Bush. Seriously." Enjoy your time in the wilderness, kids. Don’t forget bug spray.
And just one more...
CHEERS to John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For eight years you have served your country above and beyond the call by keeping your soft, beautiful progressive butts in your hard, butt-numbing Supreme Court seats. The nation owes you a huge debt of gratitude for staying when you could've left your robes on the hook and retired to a quiet life of skinny dipping and bar-hopping. With President Obama at the helm, the Court will be safe for a minimum of four years from any additional Scalias or Thomases or Alitos. The impact of that fact is immeasurable. If anything at all made me cry tears of joy last night, it was knowing that you four stayed on through America's Dark Age, and prevented one more toxic Bush appointment from driving this country completely into a monarchical ditch. I will gladly dispatch myself to your home anytime at your request---day or night, rain or shine---and pull your finger. It's the least I can do. THANK YOU.
Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?