Don’t Vote on Me

It’s been a few days since DOMA went down and out here in California there’s a palpable celebratory mood. I just got from San Francisco and the joy was literally in the air.  Back in November 2008 it didn’t feel like this. With one election we brought Obama to power and took away the rights of gay California to be equal in the eyes of the law.

Those not inclined to support gay rights, those that voted to take away the rights of gay people to marry in California are furious now that their vote to make second class citizens of a minority was not adhered to—that it was made null and void by the judiciary branch of government. They are acting shocked and dismayed and citing it as an example that the end is nigh.

But having your vote overturned in court is common in California. We are unfortunately unique in our governing process and it often renders our political leaders powerless. In order to pass anything monetary we need an 80%/20% vote. We have a long history of not trusting our legislative branch so built into our very Constitution is a ballot initiative process. Every election we have a myriad of competing ballot propositions to choose from—many often directly and purposefully in contradiction with each other. There seems to be little or no vetting as to the legality of many of our propositions we vote on and so year after year we voters of California place initiatives with 100,000 signatures or more on the ballot regardless of whether these initiatives conflict with current state law, our Constitution, federal law, or not.

Many measures that pass have to be thrown out, altered severely to meet standards, and are simply not enforceable. We’ve passed propositions to curb auto insurance costs, sell and use medical marijuana, restrict immigrant children from receiving public education, and to keep gay people from getting married. for example. The only one completely enforced the way intended was the latter.

But let’s take a moment to examine this very notion of a majority of citizens and their ability to pass laws condemning a minority of citizens.

            CNN and other major news networks spent the last few days interviewing people in California who are upset that their vote to discriminate will not be upheld in the case of Prop 8. This is somehow supposed to show that there are two sides to this issue. There aren’t two sides.  The networks could have spent their time interviewing couples whose 2008 wedding now costs them dearly in federal taxes about their tax situations, or they could have interviewed the children of gay couples and the adoptions of one’s own children that must take place to ensure rights, or powers of attorney for medical decisions that must also be in place. It costs more to be gay than straight in an unequal world.

            But my biggest call out is to the bigots who voted for Proposition 8 who are now whining that democracy is over because their voice and their vote is not being adhered to because of ‘activist’ judges. 

            Bigots, It was inappropriate to let you vote on the rights of others in the first place.

            When does it ever work out for any minority to have their lives voted on by the majority? Had Civil Rights been up for a vote in Mississippi in the 60s we know which side would have won: The side of unjust laws. The side Martin Luther King, Jr. recalls in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. The side he gave permission to overcome because of the nature of the law being an unjust law. We as a people actually have an obligation to oppose such laws.

            Majorities do not vote positively on minority rights as a rule. The minority in a democratic society has their rights protected should the majority go batshit crazy.  That’s part of our American social contract. Bigots, Should the courts have just sat back and let bigotry reign in Mississippi? That’s what’s supposed to be great about the US: Minority rights are supposed to be protected. Striking down DOMA is what the court should do. Period.

            California Constitution needs work and attention. It should never again happen that one group of Californians get to decide that another group of Californians is second class and second tier. So you can wrap this up anyway you like it on network TV.  Continue, mainstream media to interview homophobes who feel the world is coming to an end because their bigotry didn’t stand as law. Thankfully the courts do stand in the way of pitchforks for its citizens.


About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of short story ebook collection Sad Girls and Other Stories, and the audiobook Mary of the Chance Encounters, and the co-founder and lead playwright of Las Pachucas, theatrical troupe. She teaches creative writing and theatre in a California state prison.
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