Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thoughts on the election/ republican party/ gay marriage laws

1. Jon Corzine losing New Jersey is not a "referendum on the Obama Agenda". It's a referendum on him being a shitty and corrupt governor

2. A practicing pagan dude /republican won a seat on the NY city council. What does he do first? Diss the atheists:

I don't think any of this is really relevant to the City Council race. It's like talking about what church you pray at. That you understand the divine is the most important part.

Important part...except for 20% of the country. Asshat.

3. A republican was running for a seat on the house of representatives in NY. Rethuglican leaders decided that since she was pro choice and actually a moderate, they would throw their support behind a socially conservative third party candidate. So basically, this republican, who won the republican primary, was not given public (and no doubt financial) support of her own party because she did not support socially conservative views. As a result, she dropped out of the race a few days ago, threw her support behind the democrat, and the republicans lost another seat in the house.

It's funny, one of the few viable social movements right now is this socially conservative movement- they are the ones out on the streets making noise and holding protests. Mostly involving pictures of dead babies. But still. Meanwhile, they are screwing over the republican party by undermining the traditional (since the Reagen years, if that can be called traditional) alliance between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. Yes, it's not all them, and Bush and his complete lack of fiscal conservativeness is partially to blame. But now they are taking it a step further, and actually undermining democratically elected party candidates based on social views. This undermines the democratic process itself, because now candidates elected through the democratic primary system are falling prey to those who are supported by grassroots (and not representative) efforts. But in doing so they are also sowing the seeds of their party's ultimate destruction. Because ultimately, there are not enough socially conservative people out there to win elections. The republicans have become an older (on average) white man (and to a lesser extent older white women) party, and due to demographic changes in the United States, if that is the only social group they appeal to they will soon not be able to win anything. Of course that is the group with the most money, and they have the most to lose by democratic changes that might actually help non-whites and non-males get ahead. But I think if things keep going this way we will see the demise of the republican party in our lifetime.

4. So, Maine repealed their gay marriage laws. You all probably know my views on this by now (If not they they can be summed up as: Tyranny of the majority against the minority! we should not put discrimination up to a vote!). But interestingly, what no one is talking about is that Maine ALSO yesterday established by vote that the state should start approving medical marijuana dispensaries and expanded the types of illnesses for which you can be prescribed medical marijuana- and this won by 58%.

As far as I can tell from the internets, medical marijuana laws were first passed in 1998. Gay marriage laws were first passed in 2004, although there were legalized gay domestic partnerships going back as far as 1997. In the 11-12 years since these laws were first passed, 5 states have legalized gay marriage, and an additional 10 have legalized some kind of civil union or domestic partnership for gay couples. In roughly the same time period, 10 states have passed medical marijuana laws, and an additional 7 have quietly decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. I wonder which issue will pass in all 50 states first?

Not a lot of major legal change on the state level has happened since I've been alive, or at least since I have been following politics (which started some time around 9/11). I was born in 1982, right at the beginingish of the Reagen era.

Prior to my birth there was a lot of legal and social change. In the 1970s there were major changes in divorce laws that slowly spread through the states, making no-fault divorce legal. In 1970 California was the first state to legalize No-fault divorce: prior to the 1970s if you got divorced, you would have to go to court and prove that someone had did something wrong that fell into 4 categories- abandonment, abuse, adultery or a spouse had committed some kind of felony. In 1970 California passed no fault divorce laws, which made it legal to divorce no matter what- and you did not have to show one spouse was at fault in order to get divorced. By 1977, 9 states in total had passed no-fault divorce laws. By 1983 (1 year after I was born) all but two states had passed no-fault divorce laws (interesting fact- NY never did pass one of those laws).

In the 1950s and 1960s something similar happened with anti-miscegenation laws (laws that made it illegal to marry someone from a different race)..these legal reforms slowly spread throughout the 50 states until the ones that were left were struck down by the supreme court in 1967.

In my generation I think the same type of social change will happen with Gay marriage and Medical marijuana. These two issues are slowly making their way around the states. For now it seems very frustrating, and change is slow. But it's happening.

This is from the wiki on anti-miscegenation laws:

Most white Americans in the 1950s were opposed to interracial marriage and did not see laws banning interracial marriage as an affront to the principles of American democracy. A 1958 Gallup poll showed that 96 percent of white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. However, attitudes towards bans on interracial marriage quickly changed in the 1960s

96% disapproval rating in 1958! That is WAY higher then the disapproval rating for gay marriage! And yet by 1967 the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virgina struck down all anti-miscegenation laws. And even though this was less than 10 years after 90 freakin 6 percent of white people disapproved of interracial marriage, by 1967 when they struck down those laws, it only affected 17 states (all in the south)- because 33 states had already struck down the laws all by themselves.

There is hope. We are on the path towards the just conclusion. How long it will take, I don't know, but if history is any indication...probably another 10 years at least. It's exciting to watch social change in motion. I hope that 20 years from now I will be teaching my students about the spread of gay marriage laws and the massive rise in incarceration rates in the 1990s and 2000s, followed by a decline in incarceration rates after the decriminalization of non-violent drug use in the 2010s. I truly believe this will happen within our life times. Now go out there and make it happen!


  1. Marijuana legalization first, then people will forget why they hate gay people so much, then gay marriage will be legalized.

  2. I've heard that New York doesn't have no-fault divorce. So I've always wondered: How are all these couples in New York getting divorced when they don't fall into one of those four categories?

  3. I think they have to be separated for a year and then they can claim that under "abandonment" but I would have to look it up to be sure

  4. From your mouth to God's ears. So to speak.

  5. Atheists do not constitute 20% of the population according to any reasonable estimate I have seen. Do you have other data?

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