I am having a hard time being jubilant about the election. I am encouraged that we have broken one barrier, and even threatened another. The fact that America could look past old biases to elect an African American man and have women actively involved as candidates is remarkable. But I am sad to say that the rhetoric about it is not supportable.
I have heard many people, mostly older African Americans opine that this proves anything is possible. I know that they must feel vindicated for what they have lived through in decades of discrimination and exclusion. I just wish we could say that it was done.
But while we were electing Barak Obama, we were more quietly creating a new group of “second class citizens.” Arizona, Arkansas, California and Florida all amended their constitutions to limit the civil liberties of Gay and Lesbian couples. So, while we broke one barrier, we also allowed another to be codified that simply shifts what may be our need to find someone to pick on to a new target.
I am not gay or lesbian. This injustice effects me not at all in terms of my civil rights. It has personal impact in that it does limit the choices of friends and neighbors who sexual orientation is not the same as mine. But I think it has a bigger impact on us all.
When we allow a minority of our citizens to try to dictate choices about morality and single their belief systems and choices out as the only ones acceptable, we lose some of our humanity. When we sit by and are not outraged at the injustice of stripping others of their rights by changing our laws, we damage ourselves and our moral credibility.
I wish I could celebrate Barak Obama’s victory more enthusiastically. But I feel guilty and shameful for allowing bigots to simply shift the target of the bigotry from one group to another.