I want to thank all of my friends who came out to vote yesterday. These people stood against hatred, bigotry, intolerance and stood up for equality, tolerance and acceptance. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be the typical Virginian. I’ve always thought my friends were special, but I didn’t realize just how blessed I was to know them until yesterday.
In the weeks leading up to the election and even in the final few days, it seemed momentum was beginning to shift in our direction. Clearly, polls tell an incomplete picture.
The one thing that was clear was that northern Virginia was going to be a place where intolerance would not carry the day. I’m happy to say that was true. I live in district 8 which includes parts or all of Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria and Falls Church. People voted against evil by 2 to 1. Unfortunately, statewide, they supported the amendment by 57% to 43%. If the polls were accurate this means that both the undecided vote and the inherent uncertainty in the poll went almost entirely toward the other side.
Only two districts voted against the amendment. District 8, my own, as I mentioned above and district 3. District 3 voted against the amendment by 53% to 47%, but only two jurisdictions carried the day, Richmond voted overwhelmingly against the amendment with 73% against. Also, Herico County eeked out a narrow majority of no votes by about 1%.
District 9 seems to be the heartland of hatred in the state, supporting the amendment by 3 to 1.
Looking at counties, rather than districts, here are the islands of hope within Virginia: Albemarle County (59% no), Arlington (74% no), Fairfax County (54% no), Alexandria (70% no), Charlottesville (77% no), Fairfax City (52% no), Falls Church (69% no), Fredericksburg (58% no), Lexington (62% no), Norfolk (54% no), Petersburg (65% no), Richmond (69% no) and Williamsburg (62% no).
So, much as I knew it was a long shot, Virginia was not the first to defeat a gay marriage ban at the polls. It wasn’t even as close as I thought it could be. I suppose Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan and their ilk still have a stranglehold on the minds of most Virginians.
However, Arizona, may have defeated it’s constitutional ban! The no’s carried the day by 51% to 49%. However, it hasn’t been officially confirmed.
Colorado defeated it’s domestic partnership amendment and passed it’s constitutional ban. Idaho passed it’s ban. South Carolina passed it’s ban as did South Dakota and Tennessee.
Of this, only Arizona’s possible defeat is a true surprise. If there is any surprise here at home it’s that the “yes” votes were less than 60% of the population. This proves the tide is slowly turning but it takes time to truly change people’s minds. Unfortunately, during that time, countless of people’s lives will be harmed.
Now we find out just how right or wrong the attorney general is. My expectation is that an assault on domestic partnership benefits will be next. And another attempt at an adoption ban. I hope that unmarried heterosexual couples won’t be caught in the net cast by the amendment. But, if they are, they can send their thank you notes to Delegates Marshall, Senator Newman and their comrades. The cynical part of me says that they did it to themselves, but I can still feel sorry and pity for them.
I’ve reached the point of rambling so I’ll finish with this. We lost. Even knowing that was the likely outcome, I’m disappointed. We did make progress. People are beginning to understand. I hoped that the politics of fear and hate were finally going to break down. While there was progress, it still has a long way to go.
The only question is will we turn the tide before the American Taliban gets a complete stranglehold on all our lives? Because once they run out ways to legislate homophobia, who will they target next?