Columns / Discourse / November 12, 2008

California, you failed us!

I went to bed in a state of euphoria last Tuesday night. At last, the moment I had been waiting eight years for had come — Obama had won! Both the House and Senate had a democratic majority! Things were finally going to change!

Nothing could ruin my happiness. And so, when my boyfriend pointed out that it looked like California was going to ban gay marriage (after legalizing it), I blew him off. “It’s not going to pass. It’s California,” I insisted.

And so I went to bed. Well, it passed. Not only that, but gay marriage bans passed in Florida and Arizona, too. Same-sex marriage is now illegal in over 40 states.

This was a huge disappointment for one of my closest friends back home. On May 15, when the Supreme Court of California overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, my friend’s boyfriend was so excited he proposed to him.

Even though he knew the ruling could be overturned once voted on by the public, he was optimistic. At the end of this year, when his boyfriend finished college, they were planning to move to California and get married.

All is not lost for them, certainly. California is one of the few states that does allow domestic partnerships. But it’s not the same, and my friend is pissed!

Sadder still, gay and lesbian couples (and, in fact, any unmarried couple) can no longer adopt in Arkansas.

I mean, ok, I guess it is Arkansas. Not exactly the pinnacle of liberal ideals. But when associations such as The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Arkansas Association of Social Workers, and Advocates for Children and Families are all fighting against it, along with various faith-based organizations, you would think it would not pass.

The initiative came into being after the Arkansas Family Council’s bill to ban lesbian and gay couples from becoming foster parents was rejected for being unconstitutional. So, the conservative group went back to the drawing board and decided to target all unmarried couples in the new initiative, with their prime focus still being to prevent same-sex couples from adopting. This time, it passed.

The ban poses a bit of a problem for same-sex couples who want kids, given that it is also illegal for them to get married. It also poses a problem for the 9,000 kids in Arkansas’s foster care system who are just looking for a good home.

Same-sex couples are more likely than straight couples to adopt (for obvious reasons) and about one-fourth of same-sex couples are currently raising children in America (according to the US census bureau, 2000).

And they are good at it, too! Numerous psychological studies have shown that same-sex couples are just as good at parenting as straight couples and do not automatically “turn their children gay” (heaven forbid). Unfortunately, the banning of same-sex adoption is not limited to Arkansas. It’s also taken place in Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and Nebraska.

But alas, all was not lost when it comes to sexuality issues and the election! A big hurray for Colorado and South Dakota, who defeated measures which would have effectively outlawed abortion (expect in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the mother… and that is only for South Dakota.)

And, we have Obama. Obama will not try to legalize same-sex marriage — he is against it, whether for personal or political reasons. But he is for civil unions — and that is a change I would like to see!

Christy Reuter

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