Thursday, November 13, 2008

I call bullshit

By Franki Butler

Last Tuesday night was a historic presidential election, and I’m thrilled with the results, I really am (no, seriously, I was fighting the urge to have a one-woman dance party on my way to class Wednesday). However, my joy is marred by the results of several ballot measures, including the sweep of gay marriage bans in Arizona, Florida, and California. My feelings on these heinous acts of bigotry cannot be expressed in language appropriate for this blog, so I’ll point you to a much more eloquent post by Thomas of Feministe, and turn instead to another disappointing election result: the passing of Arkansas Act 1.

Arkansas Act 1 bans unmarried couples from adopting children. It’s really just a ploy to keep gay couples from adopting children, because obviously someone in a homosexual union shouldn’t be able to start a family; that would be too close to equality. The measure also keeps straight, unmarried couples from adopting, but was targeted specifically against gay couples. Let’s examine this for a moment.

The people of Arkansas thought a measure to keep gay couples from adopting was a good idea. Really, guys? The state of Arkansas had over 7,193 children in foster care in the fiscal year 2007 and hoped to remove 930 of them from the system through adoption; of those, 357 were actually placed in adoptive homes. For those of you who aren’t mathematically inclined, that’s 573 children still in the system, waiting for parents. And the good citizens of Arkansas just decided that they’d rather keep those children in foster care than live in a home with gay parents. Now, a gay parent is fine; the law only discriminates against those co-habitating with sexual partners to whom they are not married. Of course, in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, that gives one the choice of living with his/her partner, or adopting a child.

The state is basically telling its LGB citizens what kinds of families they’re allowed to have. This is not okay. This is not a fair treatment of citizens. This is a state keeping children from being placed in good homes because of some warped idea that good “family values” come only from happily married heterosexual couples. This is, quite simply, bullshit.

Read the Arkansas DHS Annual Report in its entirety here.


At November 13, 2008 at 1:20 PM , Blogger PeterW said...

According to the exit poll, for whatever it's worth, the key to the passage of Prop. 8 was the huge black turnout in California in support of Barack Obama. Blacks voted 70% in favor of the ban on gay marriage, if the exit poll can be trusted. (Supposedly, Hispanics were split almost evenly, but I suspect that has to do with confusion over the wording of the ballot, since it was hard to remember that you were supposed to be for Prop. 8 if you were against gay marriage. Back in 2000, Hispanics voted 65% for Prop. 22, which banned gay marriage, and I can't imagine they've changed much since then.)

Of course, the liberal crowd isn't going after blacks for voting against gay marriage. After all, they're, well, black. No, they're denouncing ... Mormons, who are white. The whole point of this exercise is for one set of white people to feel superior to another set of white people. That blacks have their own opinions of gay marriage is an unwelcome complication that the SWPLs are trying hard to ignore in order to fully indulge in their hatred of Mormons.

At November 13, 2008 at 1:52 PM , Blogger LSG said...

A gigantic proportion of the money, publicity, and grassroots activism supporting proposition 8 came from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I don't think the anger against Mormons is directed against individual Mormon voters so much as it is against the powerful LDS lobby and the money and energy it spent to kill CA gay marriage. While minority voters may have supported the proposition in high numbers, there is a vast difference between a high proportion of a certain demographic voting one way and a religious organization fundraising, rallying, and knocking on doors for a political cause. The LDS Church has made their position very clear (and naturally, some members do not agree with their church's position), and so it is completely legitimate to take issue with that position. If a black voter makes his or her position clear to me, it is legitimate for me to take issue with his or her position. However, it is NOT legitimate for me to take issue with "the blacks". Comparing the doctrinal position and lobbying efforts of a religious group with the voting statistics of an ethnic group is, frankly, absurd.

At November 13, 2008 at 3:40 PM , Anonymous jkis said...

Re: peterw's comment. Pointing fingers at black voters in California is not constructive, nor is it relevant to Franki's post, which sought to illuminate the injustice of the bans without laying blame on any one type of voter. Yes, exit polls indicate that 70% of black people who voted in California voted Yes on 8, but let's remember the 53% of Latino voters, 49% of Asians voters and slightly under 50% of white voters who also voted for the ban. Let's take the example of white voters, who constitute 65% of CA's voting population: if a little under half of them voted for Prop 8, then that means almost a third of the voting population (all white) voted for Prop 8. Without that push, the proposition surely would have failed. By that logic, one should blame white voters as well.

But blaming any one race of voter is absurd, irrelevant and inappropriate, which is why the "liberal crowd" isn't "going after blacks" (great terms, by the way). The point is not WHO voted for the proposition, but WHY.

You are right, peterg, about the fact that this issue is about people wanting to feel superior to each other for stupid reasons. But the victims are gay people, not Mormons, and the perpetrators don't come from any one race.

(Incidentally, I don't like the implication that Hispanic voters voted the way they did because they couldn't READ properly. Pretty condescending and vaguely racist.)

At November 13, 2008 at 5:30 PM , Blogger Franki said...

If the statistics from the exit poll can be trusted - which is doubtful, as exit polls are notoriously flawed - it just points out something that many of us knew already. The African-American community as a whole tends to be highly Christian and very religious. The large percentage of the black vote for Proposition 8 can be attributed at least in part to the black church and the fact that Yes on 8 did outreach to minority churches that No on 8 did not do. It's a case of one side knowing how to work the demographic.

But that argument is much less fun to make than, "Hey! Let's blame black people!"

Also, interesting that you had to bring up the black vote on Proposition 8, seeing as I mentioned it nowhere in my original post.

At November 13, 2008 at 8:10 PM , Blogger aost said...

I fail to see why a measure prohibiting unmarried couples from adopting children is incontestably bigoted. Study after study has shown that children are better off, pyschologically, academically, etc. in nuclear families, raised by a married, yes, heterosexual couple. Perhaps you should consider that the Arkansas Act. 1 is reflective of the best interest of the children concerned.

At November 13, 2008 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Franki said...

@ aost

Except that it's not. I'm a child of adoption, raised by a single mother, and I'm doing just fine.

The benefit of a child being raised by a happily married couple is the stability. Gay couples are just as capable of having that same stability, but aren't currently allowed to get married. At the same time, heterosexual marriage is no guarantee of stability, as we still have 50% divorce rate in this country. The nuclear family is an outdated ideal. Arkansas Act 1 isn't based on the best interests of the children in the state's care, it's based on bigotry, fear, and misinformation.

At November 14, 2008 at 2:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your post entirely and am frankly quite saddened by peterw's illogical and uniformed use of vaguely racist language to bash "the liberal crowd" as if the broad and rather meaningless identity of "liberal' is the criteria needed for someone to support a gender neutral marriage institution.

I am however a little saddened by your monolithic characterization of "the black community", that serves to essentialize the experiences of persons of color throughout the United States.

There isn't "a black community" there are many black communities. Just as there isn't one "white community". Did prop 8 or prop 2, etc. pass because "the white community" is very religious?

As feminists we must be sensitive to issues of representation...



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