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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 6, 2008 at 2:10 PM

The rights voters ignored

Change hasn’t come for everyone

Fifty years ago, racial discrimination was still legal in many states. Some states, like Washington, had civil-rights laws. Many others did not. Civil-rights legislation was going nowhere in Congress. A black person was a second-class citizen back then. Racial prejudice was still quite acceptable and even fashionable. Around that time a young senator from Massachusetts [Former President John F. Kennedy Jr.] was promising a more-just society.

The scourge of bigotry has not gone away. It has only moved elsewhere within our society. Gay, lesbian and transgender persons are the current fashionable targets. Some states have civil-rights laws that cover us. Most do not. Congress is unable to do anything. Prejudice against people like us is still accepted as the results of anti-gay ballot measures from California, Arizona and Florida have shown. Now a young senator from Illinois promises a more-just society. We’ll see.

Forgive me for my restrained joy over the election results. It still feels like the bad old days to me.

— Erick Spencer, Seattle

There is hope

Wednesday morning, The Seattle Times mentioned Barack’s Obama’s appeal to African Americans and a coalition of younger and disaffected voters, as well as the economy and the Iraq war.

Although I fully support Obama for all of those reasons, that is not why I voted for him. I voted for Obama because he gives hope to equality for gay and lesbian Americans as well as everyone else. And what I heard in his acceptance speech was that he proclaimed victory not only for African Americans, Latinos and whites, but equality for Native Americans and Asians, gays and lesbians and disabled and non-disabled. He

truly stood up to his promise for a better, more-equal America.

Though discrimination reared its ugly head in initiatives passed in Arizona, California and Florida, we defeated the homophobia of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi’s and Sen. John McCain’s campaigns.

What Obama’s win meant to me was hope for a better tomorrow when I will gain the same rights and liberties as my heterosexual neighbors.

— Benjamin Barrett, Seattle

A civil-rights setback

As a lesbian, watching the 2008 elections, I felt sad to see Proposition 8 [gay-marriage ban] pass with the California voters. This is a setback in civil rights, maintaining inequality, as heterosexuals are preserved with privilege and power and the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community continues to be marginalized.

The campaign for Proposition 8 was based on fear and intolerance. The arguments we heard from Proposition 8 proponents were basically the same arguments we heard from people opposing interracial marriage.

It is ironic that these pious, religious conservatives want to “protect” their children, yet are the first to bring up sexuality.

For me, as I would guess many heterosexuals would agree, marriage is so much more than sexuality.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment to love, honor and be faithful to one’s partner. The formal ceremony is a time of celebration and declaration of love in the presence of friends, family and community.

Just like heterosexuals, I am a mother, have an extended family and am an active member in my community and church. My stand to legalize gay marriage is asking for my community to recognize my partner as my spouse. This includes my partner being included in family functions, social functions at work and inclusion in the community as a couple. We are asking to have the same rights heterosexual couples have.

— Coral Blankinship, Mountlake Terrace

Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

Today, while so proud that we have put President-elect Barack Obama into the highest office, I am also incredibly disappointed at how evident it is that we still have so far to go.

It is true that this is a historic election. We overwhelmingly voted in our first black President, but we also voted a felon into Senate. We’ve prevented the possible right to refuse distribution of birth control by not defining a “person” at fertilization, but denied thousands of “unwanted” children placements in loving homes (straight unmarried couples and sufficient singles also adopt and foster kids, Arkansas.)

We told 18,000 couples, who just celebrated the happiest day of their lives that they don’t count and their love and happiness is not constitutional.

How do we, in this great nation, fight to keep guns in the homes of complete strangers and then allow someone to tell us who is worthy enough to be legally recognized as a married couple?

How can we elect to the presidency a man whose parents would’ve been committing a crime just 50 years ago by merely drinking out of the same water fountain and then tell Ellen DeGeneres and Portia di Rossi, “Sorry, that marriage certificate that you happily and tearfully signed, isn’t worth Lehman Brothers stock”?

How can people be that threatened by same-sex marriages? How can the marriage of two people you don’t even know lesson the value that you give your own? And is one man-one woman really the end all and be all when divorce rates are at 50 percent?

If you can answer any of my questions without mentioning God or religion, I would like to hear you out; if not, you’re violating the separation of church and state. I would further argue that, especially in the case of the recent legislation passed in California and Arkansas, we are not a nation abiding by the spirit that we have “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I just hope that it does not take this country another 50 years to recognize all people as equal in the eyes of our state and national governments.

Don’t get me wrong, I cried and am still crying buckets of joyful tears for our president-elect. I just wish things had gone differently elsewhere.

— Amy H, Seattle

Comments | More in Election, Politics, State initiatives

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