Civil Rights Move Both Ahead And Backward With Election
While the election of Barack Obama certainly moved ahead the needle barometer of civil rights in the United States very significantly, there were also some shocking substantial civil rights setbacks as well in the election. The most notable was the passage of the constitutional amendment in the state of California that bans Gay marriage.
While Barack Obama swept through California with a landslide win of historic proportions, defeating John McCain by an incredible 61% to 37% margin, a socially backward constitutional amendment to ban Gay marriage in the state passed by a narrow 52% to 48% margin, even though some top Republicans such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger even opposed the ballot measure. Some civil rights such as full equality for Gay Americans likely lags due to some deep set socially conservative sentiments among many in both the African-American as well as Hispanic communities who still do not equate the full equality of those in the Gay community as comparable to their own social struggles for full equality in American society. And despite the seeming acceptance by the public of some notable Gay American personalities such as Ellen DeGeneres, who was publicly wed to her lover Portia de Rossi in an elaborate California Gay wedding ceremony, cities such as Los Angeles immediately stopped issuing marriage licenses for same sex weddings in the wake of the vote in favor of the California ballot measure.
Arizona and Florida also passed constitutional bans on Gay marriage as well, while Arkansas passed a ballot measure aimed at banning adoptions by Gay citizens. And while Barack Obama was able to win in Colorado by a small but healthy margin, a ballot measure ending affirmative action in the state was just barely losing with a hair over 50% of the voters saying no, but could still pass when any absentee ballots are finally counted that might include some more conservative leaning voters. In Nebraska, a similar ballot measure ending affirmative action did pass by a big margin while John McCain also carried the state by a big margin as well.
The Tuesday election indeed had some very uneven results for the advancement of full civil rights for all citizens in the United States. Barack Obama broke the huge barrier of race by winning the presidency with a big win and more votes cast for a candidate for president in the United States ever. More than 64 million voters voted for Senator Obama. And that was a wonderful achievement and an excellent sign of social advancement. Even civil rights leader Jesse Jackson who was caught with a mean spirited attack on Obama earlier in the campaign season was visibly in tears in Grant Park with the big Obama win on Tuesday evening, fully realizing the huge social significance of this historic event, while at the same time some voters around the nation were still maintaining social barriers to other Americans based on their race or their sexual orientation.