City Desk

Yesterday, We All Lost

Yesterday, voting Americans elected a black man to the highest office in the country. In Colorado and South Dakota they voted to preserve a woman's right to choose. In Maryland they voted to allow adults to gamble with their own money. In Michigan they voted in favor of stem cell research and the legalization of medical marijuana, while in Massachusetts they voted to decriminalize marijuana. In Washington they voted to allow friends and strangers with terminal illnesses to shuffle off this mortal coil at a time and in a manner of their own choosing.

Yet for all those victories–and they are victories–Democrats and Republicans alike voted against their gay and lesbian neighbors in four states.

In California and Arizona voting Americans decided that gays and lesbians don't deserve to marry; while in Florida they decided that not only do gays and lesbians not deserve the right to marry, they also don't deserve the legal and contractual protections that civil unions would provide. In Arkansas, Americans decided that "the state's 9,000 children in foster care are better off there than adopted by a gay couple."

Last night I tracked the ballot initiatives closer than the presidential race. I was on the edge of my seat, almost praying that all those Obama voters in Florida–my home state–would vote for liberty and against whatever biases they had, because I wanted so badly for my cousins, my mentors, my closest friends, my old roommates, my fraternity brothers, my former colleagues, my friends' lovers and partners (with whom they've been for years), and–most importantly–people I've never met and don't care about, to know how it feels to be recognized as equal to straights under the law and to have their commitment and devotion respected.

And though I stand by my reason for not doing so (and agree with Jule's reason), I feel absolutely sick that I didn't vote against Proposition 2 with my Florida absentee ballot. We all lost last night, especially if we thought voting against racism was enough.

We still have a long, long, long way to go.

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  • Jillian

    I agree with you man. Discrimination is wrong no matter what it's applied to.

    It is as abhorrent to accept discrimination based on sexual orientation as it was to deny women the vote last century or to discriminate based on age, race, or the particular substances people choose to put into their bodies.

    It is simply unacceptable to have laws created that are based on certain ideals or moral standards when the outcome of those laws is to cause misery and loss of opportunity to people who've harmed no one and who live productive lives respecting the rights of others.

  • abc123

    You had the chance to influence the outcome of Proposition 2 and you decided not to take it. Using your frustrations regarding the presidential race is a poor excuse. You are in no position to complain about the outcome!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com Mike Riggs

    abc123: You're only half right. Osceola County, in which I'm registered to vote, passed the proposition by 36 percentage points. Voting against prop. 2 would have been fruitless, but at least I could've said I made an effort.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/showandtell/ Amanda Hess

    How can you stand by your reason not to vote? You didn't have to vote in the presidential election. Do you get all your electoral news from P. Diddy? I guess blogging is the new voting.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com Mike Riggs

    Again, my vote wouldn't have done much in my home county, and I'll admit that I should have restricted my argument to the presidential ticket.

    Also, I don't understand the P. Diddy reference.

  • Alexis

    Isn't not voting always counter-productive? If you would neglect your right to vote because one issue that's important to a certain segment of society wasn't in your opinion adequately addressed...all the friends, lovers, countrymen you reference will never have someone (president or otherwise) who will push forward the initiatives you seek...and would simply embolden the people who reject your needs/wants/ideas in the first place. Vote. People hosed down for doing it 40+ yrs ago didn't abstain just because a dixiecrat was on the ballot and neither should you.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/showandtell/ Amanda Hess

    So ... you didn't vote because after the election was decided and all the votes were counted you found that the people who DID vote in the election disagreed with you?

    And you lead with P. Diddy in your tirade against voting.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com Mike Riggs

    I didn't vote because I don't believe in a two-party system, and had I voted against prop 2, it wouldn't have mattered anyway because of where I'm registered (unless you're willing to blame non-voting Republicans for losing DC to Obama). I regret not voting for one specific ballot initiative because doing so would have been ideologically symbolic, while at the same time, politically impotent.

    While I wish that Prop 2 and various initiatives in other states had failed, I won't be bullied into retracting my views. I was tempted at one point to vote for Obama, but am now glad I didn't. Especially since it was Democrats that made possible the passage of Prop. 2 in Florida.

  • Christopher Allen

    You should have done what I did Mike. I voted in everything other than the presidential election. While you may claim that my one vote did not make a difference saying that you won't vote is just as good as saying that you are accepting your defeat. In order to truly make progress we must always be relentless in our pursuit of justice and equality both in and outside of the polls. Giving up because you don’t think you’re going to win is an action of surrender. That doesn’t sound like the Mike Riggs that I grew up with.

    [On an interesting side note 2/3s Osceola County's local elections were decided by absentee ballot since they have such a large snowbird population.]

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  • David Quinn

    You goddam libertarians and your broken window theory. Instead of sitting around bitching about the broken window, why not fix the fucking window?

    You may not think that your one vote makes a difference, but I'm sure a hell of a lot of people feel that way and don't vote because of it. How different do you think this whole thing would have turned out if all of those people l had actually voted instead of bitching about how little your vote counts. Maybe your vote doesn't count for much, but it still fucking counts for something. It counts way more than the kind of broken down defeatism you're spreading.

    The people who voted for Amendment 2 may be ignorant, bigoted motherfuckers, but at least they're smart enough to know you can't solve things solely by blogging and bitching about them. Grow up.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/showandtell/ Amanda Hess

    I'm not sure what the ballot initiative has to do with a two-party system. No one's trying to "bully" you into retracting your views, just providing a counterpoint to your combination of not-voting-as-symbolic gesture and not-voting-because-maybe-what-I-want-won't-win. It's easy to bitch about legislation you don't like after the fact, but not only did you not vote---you actually encouraged other people not to vote.

  • Reid

    wtf are you doing keeping a registration in Florida?

    How can you call yourself a person dedicated to the principles of liberty when you're committing ongoing voter fraud?

    I'd love to see a blog post of how many Citypaper staffmembers are refusing to register in DC. Maybe we'd have fewer douchebags like Michael Brown in office if people followed the law and voted where they actually live.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/showandtell/ Amanda Hess

    Ruth Samuelson, please step forward!

  • Ernest

    I'm not Ruth but I'll be more than happy to do so.

    "Yesterday we all lost" ???.. I wish you got lost, Riggs. Speak for yourself, you uninteresting little, er, non-person.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/showandtell/ Amanda Hess

    I'm not convinces that Ruth Samuelson isn't Ernest.

  • http://www.atticuscirlce.org Anne Wynne

    It is time for us, the straight allies, to stand up and stand with our gay and lesbian friends who are being systematically denied the most basic rights and recognition – the very things we, in the heterosexual world, take for granted day after day.

  • Jillian

    I agree with you, Anne Wynne.

    This issue isn't about homosexuality, it's about discrimination.

    Discrimination is evil no matter what form it takes. We need to get our minds off what they do in bed (it's none of our business) and fight to eliminate discrimination! While we're at it we need to ask our legislators why we're not controlling marijuana with the *same laws* we use for alcohol.

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