A moment of reality.

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In 1992, I watched the election returns at my Parents', as I almost always do. I stayed up late, long after they went to bed. I watch George Herbert Walker Bush concede. And I watched William Jefferson Clinton, after twelve years of Reagan, of Bush, of Republican rule, of jingoism and centralism and scandal and Iran-Contra and any number of things that were of vital importance to my twentysomething self that I can't really remember now, make his acceptance speech.

And it inspired me. My heart soared with his words. Clinton and Gore, the dream team, the redeemers, the bringers of light and life and rationality and whatever else. I clearly remember the two of them and their wives standing on stage afterward, ubiquitous campaign theme "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow" playing in the background. I remember Tipper and Hillary doing a little song-dance thing, the kind of thing college kids do when they hear that bit of a song they really like, and I just felt good. I knew, I knew it was all going to get better now.

And here's the thing. It did get better. But it also got worse. Good things happened. Bad things happened. There were outrages and triumphs for Clinton, for Gore and for the nation. But the overpowering sense that we had won, that Yesterday Was Gone and Tomorrow Was Here, that this was the theme music for happily ever after? That didn't last.

Because you know something? Yesterday was gone. But tomorrow is still tomorrow. It's today. It's always today.

It is 2008, and last night I went to my parents' house once again. We drank some wine and we watched the election results. I love election night. Win, lose or three month Florida recount, I love election night. I love the drama, the pagentry, the returns, the graphics, the commentary, the excuses, the smug retorts, the concessions and the acceptances. I love it. To me, this is the cultural defining moment of the United States of America, the single most significant act to our national character. In 1776, we declared that from this point forward, we were going to govern ourselves, and Election Day is the culmination and ritual act that makes that happen, and election night is the celebration of that ritual.

And last night was a good one. There was excitement and energy and a good narrative storyline. The various news agencies were on their A game. Dumbass holograms were employed. MSNBC and NBC News froze the red and blue state maps under the skating ice at Rockafeller Center.

And yeah, it ended. The eternal campaigning that took two years ended. The pain ended. And yes, for all those who hated George W. Bush with a passion -- and they are legion now -- that too has had its last trump played. The eight years of Bush are over.

And, what is more, a black man is now the President-Elect of the United States of America. Inauguration Day of next year, I swear to God, is scheduled such that on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP, a non-white man will for the first time take the oath of office and be our President.

I loved McCain's concession. The word that keeps coming up is 'gracious,' and it was. It reaffirmed what John Wayne said a long time ago about John F. Kennedy -- what we all should remember when our candidate loses and the other guy wins. Wayne said "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job." Last night, McCain essentially said the same thing, and pledged his support, and called upon those who supported him to do the same. I hope that comes to pass.

I loved Obama's speech. It had just the right balance of humility in the face of history coupled with the exultant, soaring culmination of achievement. His daughters were aggressively adorable, and he told them they were going to get a puppy.

I loved Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan, two men I often disagree with, but whose insights and viewpoints were razor sharp last night.

And yes, at the end there was a tremendous feeling of relief. It was over. There was a temptation to feel the way I had felt when I was twenty-four years old and Bill Clinton had just given his acceptance speech. To feel like this was a victory, that we had been ushered into Happily Ever After.

But I'm not twenty-four. I'm forty. And I know the truth. We haven't won.

If you were desperately pulling for Obama, relish the victory. But we haven't won.

If you were desperately pulling for McCain, spare all the time you need for regret. But you haven't lost.

We're not at happily ever after. We're not living in Tomorrow. It's not over.

It never, ever will be.

Today, President-Elect Obama is beginning the process of assembling his administration. In the meantime, we are in financial meltdown. We are in two wars. We have social strife. We have the strangest situation where South Dakota strongly repudiated the politics of the culture war even as California embraced them. We have desperate social inequalities. We have people trapped in foreclosure. We have soldiers in harm's way. We have people who want to kill us just because we exist.

Barak Obama, whether you like him or not, is going to do some things very well. He is going to do okay on other things. He is going to make some minor mistakes elsewhere. And he is going to completely blow it at other times. The Democrats in Congress are going to push their agenda forward in some ways, fall into fracture and divisiveness in others. Sometimes they will cooperate with the Republicans, and sometimes they'll shaft them. The Republicans will sometimes come together with the Democrats to get things done and sometimes will fight tooth and nail to beat them and make them look bad at the same time. And don't kid yourselves -- no one is better than the Republicans at playing defense.

This is where the hard work starts, not ends. This is where we all have to cope with the financial, social and military world that this new Administration and Congress are going to inherit. There is no happily ever after. There is only today, and today there's a Hell of a lot of work to be done.

And Barak Obama's not going to do it. He can't. No one man could. And in two years, we will not have solved all our problems. We might not have solved most of them. And two years after that we'll still be working on it.

Both McCain and Obama made reference to this last night. There is an impossible amount of work before us all, and as Obama said, it won't be done in a year or even in a Presidential term. What he did not say is it will never be done. Even if we fix all the troubles we currently have, new troubles will arise. New challenges will need to be met.

I have hope. Pure, wonderful hope. Hope that Obama will be a good President. Hope that Congress will do a good job. Hope that the nation will indeed pull together and fix things. But hope is not faith, and it certainly isn't blind faith. This is going to be hard. This is often going to suck on toast. And a whole lot of people are going to be desperately disappointed. Hell, a whole lot of people -- an estimated fifty six million as of the current count -- are disappointed today. And the sixty three million who are thrilled and elated will be disappointed sometime in the next four years. It is inevitable. We must be prepared for that.

In the end, it all comes back to the same thing. If you are an American, whether or not you voted for him, he will be your President. Even as he is my President, and, in John McCain's words, his President.

All we can do is hope he does a good job. He and the Congress we the people of the United States of America sent along with him.

History was made yesterday. Soaring, hopeful history, changing the course of this Nation. It was made by millions upon millions of people, and that's amazing. But that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone. It's today now. It's always today. And today, there's a hell of a lot of work to be done. And if a black man was named President-Elect yesterday, it's worth remembering that today homosexuals in California have been told that their relationships and commitments don't count, and that they are second class citizens. Told by their neighbors. The people that they meet each day.

Today's here, and there's a lot of work to be done.

My hope to Obama, to the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, to the elected officials I voted for and the ones I didn't vote for. May they do a good job. May we all.

27 Comments

That was what blew my mind: South Dakota, Michigan, and freaking Colorado made strong statements in favor of individual rights, liberties, and progress, while California took a giant step backwards. Personally, and perhaps this is wishful thinking, I don't think that the law will hold up. The Gubernator strongly opposes it, and I have the sneaking suspicion that under Obama, the Supreme Court might be willing to acknowledge the unconstitutionality of the ban. But still, it's depressing to have lost faith in the people around me, and to live in, in the words of a friend, "a state that respects the rights of chickens more than the rights of gay people."

That's a fucking wake-up call right there.

Thanks for this post. I'm only 34, and already I'm too old for messianic fervor in all matters save actual Messiahs. It's fun to chant "Yes We Can!"... heck, I did it myself this morning. And maybe, just maybe, what the nation needs more than anything is a bunch of people feeling good and hopeful. But Obama stands ready to disappoint us, and I mean that in the least cynical and most realistic way possible, and I just hope the inevitable anti-messianic backlash isn't too harsh.

And with that, I sign off of election-related talk. Because, good gravy, I am so bleeding tired of it. Back to business, says I.

I don't know how legal matters will play out, but I'm not sure how a constitutional amendment can be declared unconstitutional. I suppose one can argue that there are now contradictory clauses in the constitution, but I think in general when you have a general principle in a document in conflict with a specific case, you would have to consider the specific case an exception to the general rule.

The saddest thing about it, is that while the gay people were out helping to elect the first black president, it was the african-american vote that made the difference in Prop 8 going forward. The black community voted something like 60-75% to introduce a clause of discrimination into the California constitution. (At least in LA, and I believe it was similar in other parts of the state).

The only comfort, and small comfort that it can be for those who have been told they are second class citizens, is that this is one issue that breaks down very strongly by age. So every year, more gay marriage opponents die, and every year more gay marriage advocates become eligible to vote. It was close this time. Maybe in 2 years, maybe in 4 years, maybe in 6 years but relatively soon this will be removed from the constitution. My biggest fear on this matter is that now the homophobes have their constitutional change they will start work on making it harder to change the constitution. As one of my friend's commented regarding California, "...it takes 2/3's majority to increase the sales tax, but only a simple majority to create a second-class group of citizens and strip them of their fundamental rights of marriage. Something is wrong with that picture." I'd like to change that, but right now there is unfinished business to take care of first.

Well, I know it can't be challenged unconstitutional under California's constitution. But it might be able to be challenged by the US Supreme Court. (After all, doesn't the distinction of civil union vs. marriage directly violate Brown v. Board?) That's pretty much the only hope for the immediate future.

That's an excellent point about the process of changing the California constitution. California voters will just have to be aware and actively fight against making the constitution harder to change.

Personally, I'm in favor of eliminating the term "marriage" altogether. Civil unions for all!

I'm for getting rid of the legal institution of marriage. If you want to go through a religious ceremony to get married, that's fine. I would get along just fine with making a few arrangements without going through some hoity-toity "marriage" or even "civil union" process.

There's certain legal protections that come with marriage. That said, fundamentally I agree with Morgan, with one caveat. Define all domestic partnerships currently called 'marriage,' be they gay or straight, as a civil union. Have that be the only legal term that the government uses and can put forward. Put the term marriage back firmly into the social/religious sphere. If you want to get married in the eyes of the Catholic Church, you have to talk the Catholics into it. If you want to ensure child, property and tax rights, get a civil union.

I agree with you on that Eric. I think if we could separate the civil from the religious in this it would have a better chance, though I could see the campaign to take the word marriage out of all civil statutes to not be the easiest one either.

I have read that there has been a court case filed at this point to invalidate Prop 8 on the grounds that it was not actually a constitutional amendment, but a constitutional revision, which requires a different procedure under California law, but they are calling it a long shot, and invalidating it through the California courts is only going to make the people in favor of this stuff even more fervent.

Most likely this is going to continue to be a back and forth issue with gay couples caught in the cross-fire. There is a part of me that just wants to say, wait a few years folks, opinion will shift and you won't have to change everyone's constitution to do it. But it is hard to ask people who are being treated like second class citizens to just wait.

The silver lining; the count is 52% for in this case. In 2000 the similar measure passed with 61%. Some portion of that difference is probably down to massive liberal voter turnout this year in California, but there was also massive turnout of everyone who would disagree, including McCain-loving Orange Country and minority groups who tend to hold more conservative positions on this issue.

The bottom line for me is that after you get over the crushing disappointment, it's an encouraging trend. I don't want to wait any longer for just laws on this, but I will admit I'd love to see it approved outright by the People of California, and I still hope it will be.

One small correction: Obama's transition started a while ago, as well it should have.

Otherwise, spot on.

I'm ticked off about Prop. 8-2008. But history gives me confidence. A few years ago another ban passed by a much wider margin. A few years before that nobody even thought there was a NEED for a ban, it was just how things WERE. The forces of reaction managed to entrench today, a a cultural fortification we'd dearly like to have taken from them before they could dig in, but it's not a position they can hold.

"Put the term marriage back firmly into the social/religious sphere."

That works for me. Civil union, marriage... Dude, I'll still be able to call myself married, y'know? And it won't change a flippin' thing 'bout the relationship.

A couple corrections: On the anniversary thing... it's the same year as the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, but it's not the anniversary. The NAACP, according to their website (http://www.naacp.org/about/history/timeline/), was founded on February 12th. Inauguration day is, as always since 1937, January 20th.

Also, you left the "c" out of "Barack".

Other than that, a well-written article that I find I agree with. I wholly agree that whether people voted for a candidate or not, when that candidate wins, they need to accept that fact. It really irks me when I see bumper stickers saying "He's not MY president" or "Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him". There's a reason why it's called a vote -- it's so everybody who is eligible gets a voice. It's not a guarantee that you, specifically, get your own way. And I've yet to see any person who put up the "Don't blame me" sticker who was intellectually honest enough to put up a sticker saying "Go ahead and blame me, I DID vote for him" if their candidate won.

As for the whole Prop-8 thing... Part of me is surprised, as with many here, that it was California of all places that passed this. And like many above, I think the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Yes, there are child, property, and tax rights associated with it -- but not one of them should be. Child rights should be according to the parentage; with the state of divorces and unwed parenting today, this is already changing. Property and tax rights... the government gets their money either way. Why should they care if two people who live together and support each other are married, an unmarried couple, or not a romantic couple in any way shape or form? It doesn't change what they need to spend for food, rent, etc. Why should it affect their taxes?

Of course, another beef I have with Prop-8 is merely the fact that I, as a non-Californian, even had to hear about it. It's frankly amazing to me how many places I saw ads for and against it where they had no reason to assume the majority of the people seeing the ad would be able to vote on it. My gripe here has less to do with the issue itself, and more to do with California's self-centered-ness. But then, I'm in Oregon, and we do tend to be a bit touchy about the subject of the state down below.

Personally, I'm in favor of keeping the term marriage, and extending it to homosexual unions.

See, I look at what the institution of marriage has been traditionally. It was a way to drive bargains politically. It was glorified slavery of women. It was a way to keep women under the control of male relatives. It was a way to make women into property (oh, dowries, how you look more offensive with every new look). Let's face it, throughout much of history, marriage was a terrible joke.

But we've come pretty far since then. In much of this country, it's about love - even the one arranged marriage where I knew one of the participants based it on some level of emotion (and he got a divorce when it was clear that it wasn't working because of emotion). But it doesn't go far enough if it's excluding a love between two consenting adults just because they happen to have the same reproductive organs.

If marriage is a sacred institution, it was corrupted centuries ago by mortal greed and prejudice. But the concept at the heart of it is good, and I believe it can still be redeemed. Marriage doesn't mean what it meant even a hundred years ago, even in states with those backwards laws. I think we should keep moving forward, and make the whole institution of marriage, once and for all, become something to be proud of.

And with that, I'll go to bed, realizing fully how silly it is for me to get worked up over semantic hair-splitting.

I'm not sure how a constitutional amendment can be declared unconstitutional

IANAL but isn't that what happened to the eighteenth amendment to the US Constitution?

All I really have to say about the presidential election is the same thing I said about the congressional election two years ago: I don't know whether changing the party in power will really change anything, but I'm pretty sure that not changing the party in power wouldn't change anything.

Actually 32_Footsteps you are completely wrong about marriage on every single point. Marriage is not about love. Shocking claim I know, but think about it. Love in no way necessitates marriage. You can love just fine without it.

Rather, Marriage is a contract between a man and a woman for the sake of their CHILDREN. It establishes a set of rights and responsibilities designed to provide the best environment possible for their children. Which is also why the government is always involved with marriage. It's not concerned so much with the couple, but with the protection of the helpless children.

Looking at marriage through that lens, it's easy to see why all these other things(love, lifetime commitment, fidelity, monogamy, heterosexuality) are traditionally connected to marriage.

Is love important? Yes, a marriage without love is terrible for children. Is stability important? Without a doubt. Children are devastated by divorce and infidelity. Monogamy? Polygamy reduces stability(because one of their parents could be seeking another spouse) and decreases the time and attention they would be getting from one of their parents. Polygamists also favor the children of their favorite spouse, which is obviously to the detriment of the others. And last, but most important to this discussion is Heterosexuality. Two men or two women cannot produce children so the institution of marriage is irrelevant for them.

In addition to everything about marriage making perfect sense if it is indeed about children, consider that there is nothing except the good and protection of children that necessitates marriage. You can love, have sex, share property, run a business together, make promises of fidelity, anything you want really, without marriage.

It is sad that so many people do not understand what marriage is about, and have instead turned it into a mechanism to force others to accept their love for each other. That's the real reason homosexuals want the state to declare them married. Their personal insecurity leads them to demand that others with official capacities declare their relationships legitimate.

An election like this brings out the best and worst in people. Like discovering that my parents voted against him basically because he's black. I'm not sure what to do with that revelation.

I didn't vote for either candidate because neither Barack nor McCain had said anything that hasn't been tried before or has bantered around about what should be done. Especially with an economic recession that almost (in some economist's estimation) became a depression, and a military situation in the Middle East that won't be over anytime soon --- even if all of our troops are removed by the end of President Barack's 1st term --- calls for discussions and novel approaches for solutions to problems, that frankly happened or were made worse because of some of the solutions that have been bantered about in this past election now. And I like that I can say, "I'd rather not vote for any candidate...I was hoping for something better."

So far, from what I've heard of the President-Elect, seems pretty good. I hope he continues to do what needs to be done, even if I don't agree with his choice of political, economic, and social weapons.

If what you say is true, Thomist, then every single couple that does not have children, for whatever reason, is not married.

Of course, that also suggests that anyone who is infertile, for whatever reason, has no reason to be married and should thus have marriage denied to them. Can't produce sperm or eggs due to a genetic anomoly? No marriage for you. Lose reproductive organs in an unfortunate accident? Well, guess you don't need marriage then. Female and undergone menopause? Guess what, any marriage you might have had is annulled.

Does all that sound absurd to you? It should, because the idea that marriage exists solely for the children is absurd. And that's not even getting into the subject of homosexuals that want to raise children - which, in a bit of shocking news, ends up producing children just as likely to be in a good situation as children raised by a heterosexual couple.

Of course, you also neglect to mention all the rights and privelages that become available for a spouse - there are literally over a thousand rights, many which have nothing to do with children, that are the exclusive rights of a spouse. Moreover, to the person I love, I was able to pay $50 (or, if you prefer to think of it that way, $25 per person) to get all those rights and give her all those rights.

Nobody is "forcing" anyone to accept anyone else's love. I don't give a rat's ass if anyone outside of my marriage accepts the love my wife and I share. There are a few heterosexual marriages I don't accept - one case where I think the wife is a soul-devouring cheater who is cuckolding a friend, one where I think a friend is settling for a husband that doesn't really care for her. Accepting or denying someone's love is your business. But when your denial of someone's love is forcing someone to be a second-class citizen, then it becomes the business of others.

My wife's not fertile. That means that we couldn't have gotten married, under that rule.

Sorry, but I call bullshit on that argument.

My fiancé and I don't plan on having kids for several years. Would we have to wait to get married? What if we decide never to have kids, or discover that we're unable? Would we not be able to get married? A good friend of mine is of the opinion that once you're married, you're in the baby-making business, but even she doesn't think that I shouldn't get married just because I don't want to start spawning right away. I'm sorry, but that's one of the weakest arguments in regards to marriage that I've heard yet.

Actually the legal challenge to Prop 8 on the amendment/revision distinction is not necessarily that long a shot; it had already made its way to the California Supreme Court before the vote, but the Supremes punted it using the standard judicial logic of "we don't want to make a decision until we absolutely have to, so don't bother us unless this thing passes."

Frankly, of course, the whole notion of making civil rights subordinate to a simple majority vote is absurdly antithetical to the concept of a constitution. But since the Supreme Court has already ruled that marriage is a civil right which cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation under the California constitution, it's not difficult to suppose that they would agree that stripping one class of citizens of civil rights already recognized under law does, indeed, represent a revision of the constitution.

In simple terms, Prop 8 may be unconstitutional because the *process* of amending the state constitution must be followed in order to make a valid amendment. And Prop 8 likely did not follow that process.

In simple terms, Prop 8 may be unconstitutional because the *process* of amending the state constitution must be followed in order to make a valid amendment. And Prop 8 likely did not follow that process.

Actually 32_Footsteps you are completely wrong about marriage on every single point. Marriage is not about love. Shocking claim I know, but think about it. Love in no way necessitates marriage. You can love just fine without it.

Rather, Marriage is a contract between a man and a woman for the sake of their CHILDREN. It establishes a set of rights and responsibilities designed to provide the best environment possible for their children. Which is also why the government is always involved with marriage. It's not concerned so much with the couple, but with the protection of the helpless children.

...yeah, I read a lot of Heinlein too, growing up. Love Heinlein to this day, really, even if Project Moonbase (not to be confused with Destination Moon) was a terrible movie.

Anyway, this statement.

Ridiculous.

Utterly, purely ridiculous. Which is to say 'worthy of ridicule.' I would suggest to you that raising it in other forums would lead to you being ridiculed more directly than we allow over here, and if you raise it in person, might get you socked in the eye by an irate husband who doesn't have children.

Marriage is a statement. Marriage is a contract. Marriage, yes, gives rights and responsibilites for children but it also includes tax rights, property rights, rights to a given lifestyle and standard of living which has to be addressed when or if it ends, is a statement that allows for medical and social rights, and in many ways simplifies matters between two people and the state.

If I get powerfully ill, which I've been recently (many many antibiotics in my life now), I have to give explicit permission for most people to get updates, visit or dispose of my needs while I'm incapable of doing so. My wife can do it just by showing up.

If I die and my will is not in order, my wife can administer my estate.

Next year, my taxes are going to be tons of good times because now I have a wife and so there will be more money coming back.

And so on and so forth. And almost none of that needs, requires or implies children.

I am married to a wonderful woman. There are many reasons we are married now. Some are emotional, some are practical. None of them have anything to do with children and are not likely to in the foreseeable future. Are you telling me my marriage is illegitimate?

Seriously. Are you telling me my marriage is illegitimate? Because I mentioned above how this might get you punched in some quarters? If you're saying my marriage to my wife, Wednesday, is illegitimate because we haven't breeded to your satisfaction, then I'll happily be one of the ones punching you in the eye. It's crass and beneath me, but on a visceral level I'll feel better and most authorities would give me a bye due to incitement.

All of the above, however, is irrelevant, because your opinion of my marriage is irrelevant. Under the law, the reasons I got married to Wednesday are, quite frankly, none of your business.

And that's how it should be. My relations and relationship with my wife are mine and hers. And you have no say in them whatsoever. They're none. Of. Your. Damn. Business. They're private. They don't affect you. And if you don't like them, that's your tough luck, because they exist. She's my wife. I'm her husband. And anything else is between me, her and our joint cat.

Why is Prop 8 and everything like it so offensive? Why is this intermittent bigotry so God damned offensive to me and mine?

Because you're saying the relationship between two consenting adults is your business.

You're saying you have the right to pass on the reasons that two people feel for each other and choose to express it. You're saying you have the right to judge their relationship not with you or with society but with each other.

You're saying you're better than they are, and you and yours have the right to call them second class citizens, to call their feelings and their justifications for them insufficient, to take your personal distaste for what you surmise goes on behind the closed doors of their home and use it as a justification for denying any and all reasons they might have for coming together in a permanent bond. Reasons which might be as crass and cynical as tax breaks or property rights, as important and meaningful as the right to speak for one another without question and gain survivors benefits to their joint children, or as simple and poignant as love for one another.

Reasons which, in the end, are none of your damn business, just like the reasons I married my own wife are none of your damned business.

Keith Olbermann, just last night, pointed out that as late as the 60's, a man and a woman couldn't marry legally in much of the country if one were white and the other were black. That our new President-Elect is lucky that he came from a place where his parents would be recognized as married. We have "redefined" marriage many times in the past five thousand or so years. And no, those redefinitions have not begun and ended with children. Nor will they. Nor should they.

Above, I advocated abandoning the marriage term for all and going with "civil unions." Between conversations I've had since then and my own visceral reaction to this, I'm going back on that, unequivocally:

Gay men deserve the right to marry each other. By that term.

Lesbian women deserve the right to marry each other. By that term.

The transgendered deserve the right to marry each other or marry any man or woman, by that term.

No church can be forced to recognize the sacrament of that marriage, any more than the Catholic Church is required to recognize my Vegas-fueled marriage to Wednesday, but that should deny neither me nor Gays, Lesbians or the Transgendered the legal rights, responsibilities or protections of marriage.

And in the end, why two people marry is no one's business but those two people, and it is offensive to the core for the State or their Neighbors to say otherwise.

That was a pretty cool article. One thing bugs me, however, and correct me if I'm wrong...


Election day is January 20th. Wasn't the NAACP founded in February? I seem to remember reading that somewhere at some point.

That was a pretty cool article. One thing bugs me, however, and correct me if I'm wrong...


Inauguration day is January 20th. Wasn't the NAACP founded in February? I seem to remember reading that somewhere at some point.

...yeah, I read a lot of Heinlein too, growing up. Love Heinlein to this day, really, even if Project Moonbase (not to be confused with Destination Moon) was a terrible movie.

And, of course, Heinlein and his wife were famously unable to conceive children of their own.

While I'm in the group of "voted for the other guy" (I actually preferred Obama on a number of issues like the Patriot Act, but I'm pro-Life and Obama has a rather vehemently pro-Abortion stance), I'm less bummed about the choice of president and more that one party has both the presidency and the majority in Congress. I'm a personal believer that the system of checks and balances in the government does not work properly unless there's proper opposition. Yes, there will be some degree of dissention in the ranks due to individual candidates not fully agreeing to their party lines (which, frankly, is how it should be, and is one of the reasons that I still call straight-ticket voting legalized idiocy), but a lot of them will toe the party line when it comes to votes because if you don't toe the line, your party doesn't nominate you the next year and the American populace has been well-conditioned that a vote for a third party equals a wasted vote. As regards the people looking for "change", I point out that this goes in cycles. People elect a Democrat president and a Republican Congress. Things go well, might as well try more of the same. They elect a Democrat Congress. Things go south, and we need change. They elect a Republican president. Things go well, try more of the same. Elect a Republican Congress... lather, rinse, and repeat. While there were some definite missteps in the government, things like the Economic recession and September 11 have been brewing over decades of bad decisions. Blaming any one president or party is just people trying to avoid the truth. Ideally, we would be able to cast votes on issues. Until we achieve that ideal, we have to pick the best candidates we can find, looking at them for their position (and trustworthiness... there's nothing worse than a politician that won't stay bought), not their party. And ultimately, it's going to suck. I think it was Churchhill who said that Democracy was the worst possible system, but the best one available.

As regards the marriage issue, I can kind of understand both sides of it. Marriage means something as a religious institution, and kids traditionally do figure into that as does love. Socially, it's an issue of stability (also conducive towards the kids issue), support, and trust. And on the legal level, it's kind of like incorporating. The government/companies know that two people are at a more stable state (if one person gets sick, there's someone else to pick up some of the work and/or nurse the other into health). All in all, I believe that the legal aspects should be allowed to any two people who decide to incorporate (in something as emotionally charged as marriage, I'll make the bold statement that allowing more than two people actually makes the situation less stable). I also believe that it should be harder to get such unions and harder to dissolve them. Treat it like a business incorporation. People have to show some hard facts indicating that they're psychologically compatible for a longer run and can do enough financial planning to support two people (who often don't live as cheaply as two, let alone one) and dissolving the union requires them showing that they've tried to make things work out but it's not working, that it's not just a fit of pique. Yes, it takes a lot of the starry-eyed "Let's get married" romance out of the concept, but I think it's the more sane course overall. It's not perfect, of course, and you're still going to see some bitter custody battles whether it's over kids, the cat, or the Caddy.

I'm also in the position of desiring of keeping "marriage" for the religious/social definition and using something like "civil union" for these new legal setups which anyone can enter into, but intellectually, I know that that doesn't really work. We have hundreds of years of legal works using the word "marriage" and those aren't going to change easily to accomodate splitting the meaning.

By the by, on a side note, most of the religions I know of who include the kids as part of an integral part of a marriage (I'm Catholic, to establish my own bias) allow for things like infertility in that such a couple still has free reign to adopt. Goodness knows that there's far too many children out there who need a family. Just saying, because as seen in Eric's post above, it's one of those redfaced "Whaddya mean you don't think it's valid" argument points. And again, this is the religious point of view. I think that legally speaking, marriage helps protect kids by giving them a stable framework (although I think that the low bar for entering and exiting marriages has resulted in mass havoc there), but the legal definition should not require kids.

And this turned out to be sort of a ramble... but I get that way on topics like this.

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