It’s election day and I find it hard to think of much else. You’d think it’s election day in the country I’m actually in but it’s not. Thousands of miles away in the UK I’m worrying about elections in the US hoping for both an Obama victory and a vigourous no on Proposition 8 in California.
Proposition 8 is the California initiative trying to ban same-sex marriage amending the California constitution to only recognise marriage between one man and one woman. Marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples for a few months, since the California Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional to limit marriage to only opposite-sex couples.
I’ve been following the Proposition 8 debate so closely that it feels like an issue that affects me directly. It does in terms of what a momentous historical event this is. In many countries same-sex marriage has been passed into law through the legislative process. In this instance, a massive referendum on the issue is being held and if Proposition 8 is defeated it will send a strong message in terms of the direction public opinion is going.
Something in the region of $70 million have been spent campaigning for and against the proposition, an unprecedented amount for a constitutional amendment, and this amount alone gives a sense of how strongly positions are held on both sides of the divide. Silicon Valley giants like Apple and Google have weighed in with their donations as well as many Hollywood celebrities, all trying to defeat the proposition. On the other side, it’s mostly religious institutions, first among them the LDS (Mormon) Church, that have contributed to campaigning against same-sex marriage.
Unable to get involved in actually campaigning for the issue, I have been involved online debating with people, trying to get the point across of how meaningful this vote is. It’s sad to hear what people actually write about this, all the hate and prejudice that still exists against gay people especially from bible-quoting right-wingers but I’m heartened by other supportive comments and I’m hoping the more open-minded portion of the population will turn out to be the majority.
In less than 24 hours we should have a pretty good idea of what the outcome of all this campaigning will be.