electioneering redux

Ah, there’s so much to write about and so little time. For starters, the fifth episode of the DharmaRealm podcast was released this morning (go listen. now!). Then there’s those two wacky people living in a yurt in the Arizona desert that are just screaming to be made fun of (and commented on in a more serious way of course). And as you know all of Asia is going to hell and there must be something we can do to help, politics be damned. So much to write, and so little time.

But today of all days, I’d like to spend a little bit of time talking about love. Today is a day for lovers! Today is a day to celebrate marriage! Today is the day after the California Supreme Court overturned our ban on same-sex marriage!

(Before I say anything else, I’d like to point out that the issue here is not whether or not gay folks should marry (and it certainly has nothing to do with the morality of homosexual behavior) but has everything to do with equal protection under the law. If I, as a straight man, have the right to choose to marry someone, a gay man or woman also needs to have that right. Period. And no amount of fear-mongering or hate speech will convince me that gay marriage is going to be the death knell of western civilization. Get. Over. It.)

But as you go out and celebrate, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is an election year. This is an election year in more ways that one, or to put it another way, on more days than one. We already had a primary, and on June 3rd we’re having another. (It goes without saying of course that if you’re not a California resident, you can skip the next paragraph.)

What?! Another election!? That’s right. Another election. And despite the fact that it’s in June and there’s not a lot on the ballot, it’s crucial that you go out and vote. It’s crucial that you go out and vote no on 98. (I’m indifferent to 99. Then again, I’m not a property owner.) 98 will not only get rid of rent control which would really really really suck for folks like me; but it’s also got a whole bunch of other stuff packed in there that’s no good and unnecessary. So vote no, alright? And, more to the point, go out and tell your friends and family members who aren’t paying attention to vote no. Good.

Moving along: come November, we’re likely to have a proposition on the ballot to make a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Which, obviously, I’m against. (This is the problem with those ballot initiatives, those people who stand in front of grocery stores asking for your signature for some ballot measure. Lousy ballot initiatives is how we got Prop. 13, the recall, and a ban on gay marriage in the first place…. okay. That’s not fair. It’s also how we got legalized medical marijuana and stem cell research. I’m just feeling punchy.)

Where was I? Oh yes. November.

In November, like it or not, gay marriage is going to be an “issue,” even though it shouldn’t be. So I am hereby imploring everyone out there reading this to do the following two things: (1) don’t let the constitutional ban pass because if it does me, my family, and all our friends are movin’ to Canada and you’ll be stuck here with all the boring social fascists who will have to start hating on you since all us wacky liberals left town, and (2) whenever someone brings up gay marriage as “an issue,” politely change the subject.

Why change the subject? First because it is not relevant to the presidential election. It could be. If any of the candidates either (a) were in a position to make policy decisions on the matter* or (b) had not already made their views plain. But the fact of the matter is that they are not in a position to make policy on the matter because marriage laws are state laws and whoever wins the White House can neither make a Federal Constitutional Ban on gay marriage nor can he/she change tax laws to grant same-sex couples equal protection. (Those fun jobs are handled by Congress which seems to be pretty immobile on the issue as of late.) The other fact of the matter is that all three remaining candidates have the exact same position on the issue: they don’t believe in gay marriage; they all support some version of domestic partner benefits; and they all think that this is a state issue.

I may not agree with them, and I may not think that this should be solely a state’s rights issue, but they’re all clearly putting the matter to bed. Harping on it won’t elevate the level of public discourse in this country.

So why change the subject? Because there are a half-dozen other national issues facing the prospective president that (a) he/she will be in a position to make policy decisions about and (b) effect the day-to-day lives of every single person in this country in an actual, measurable way, not in a made-up abstract way like the asinine argument that gay marriage weakens straight marriage.

To whit:

  1. Reduction of greenhouse gasses; writing and enforcing regulation to ensure that we actually do reduce greenhouse gasses; working with other countries to ensure that they also help combat global warming.
  2. Appointing at least one (possibly two) Supreme Court Justices
  3. Doing something to the economy that will either raise or lower your taxes (depending on who is elected and how much money you make)
  4. Figuring out a way to end the war in Iraq; or, if that doesn’t work, figuring out a way to make it look like we “won” while keeping a “peace keeping force” in the country for decades to come; either way ensuring that American lives and Iraqi civilian lives are lost (and you and I foot the bill)
  5. Creating (or not) a way for people to have greater (or lesser) access to affordable health care
  6. Undoing the international and diplomatic damage caused by Bush, Co. over the last seven years (which might not seem like something that effects us every day, but you can bet it does in everything from trade agreements to the likelihood that we’ll all go up in a nuclear blaze of glory because of something stupid Iran does)

These are things that actually effect you. If my neighbors decide to get married (they’re gay, by the way), the worst that will happen to me is that I’ll have to buy them a wedding gift (the horror!). It’s not going to degrade my marriage to Dana. It’s not going to erode the very foundations of our civilization. It’s neither going to help or hurt the economy (and actually there’s a compelling argument to be made that it would absolutely help the economy). It’s not going to bring about an end to the housing crisis, fight global warming, or bring the troops home. In what way then is this an issue for the world’s most powerful job?

So. That being said. Hooray for love! And let’s get ready for a wild election year. Don’t let the fear mongering social fascists get ya down!

* Bill Clinton was in a position, as Commander in Chief, to make a policy decision that mattered back in 1993. And he blew it with the whole “don’t ask, don’t tell” fiasco. To the best of my knowledge, the U.S. Armed Forces are still pretty inflexible on this issue, and it’s considerably far removed from whether or not all those un-asked, un-telling service-men and -women are able to get legally married. That is, even if they were asking and telling, that doesn’t change the marriage laws.