The tragic news casting a pall over the Obama victory last night is the passage of constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage in Florida, Arizona, and, it appears, California. In Florida, a state that went for Obama by a 51-49 percent margin, 62 percent of voters pulled the lever for the gay marriage ban. That means that the hardcore religious right, which fueled the placement of these bans on the ballot in all three states and spearheaded the campaigns for their passage, succeeded in not only mobilizing their followers -- who were led to believe that gay marriage would spell the end of religious liberty for Christians -- but in casting the issue in a way that appealed to more moderate voters as well.
I guess we can hope that this is a healthy slap in the face, a cold reminder, here in our Finest Hour. We might be living in the Future, now, but we can’t pretend it’s an unrecognizable place. They’re all still out there, the hardcore conservative true believers, with all of their vicious banality. The era of their freakishly hypertrophied power is done with, but they’re not going to go quietly or cleanly.
But damn. Think about all those eighty-year-old black people turning out to vote for Obama. They got born into a world where they were the objects of smirking contempt and hysterical fear—but redemption, they knew, was just around the corner. It was gonna be okay; Langston Hughes said so. Then skip forward a few depressing decades, and these same people are still thinking well, maybe in another generation or two it won’t matter so much. The ones who lived to see this morning are happy now, if “happy” is even the word for something like that. But there are other people feeling that bitter resignation all over the country this morning. Oh, well. Maybe our kids will get to marry whomever they feel like.