Most of the results were in. With all but a few House and Senate seats nailed down, my attention turned to collecting the scattered results of all the ballot measures I was following this year. By and large, it’s your standard culture war stuff: abortion, affirmative action, gay marriage.
At the moment, a ballot measure banning affirmative action in Nebraska passed easily (58-42) and another in Colorado went down by slightly more than a one percent margin (50.6-49.4). Initiative 1000 permitting doctor assisted suicide passed in Washington (59-41). Proposition 1 in Michigan allowed for medical marijuana (63-37) and Question 2 decriminalized possession of 1oz. or marijuana in Massachusetts.
In all of this, there were two things that surprised me. First, voters overwhelmingly rejected massive tax cuts. In Massachusetts, a proposal to eliminate the state income tax, effectively bankrupting the state government and allowing Grover Norquist to drown it in the bathtub, went down to defeat (69-31). North Dakota defeated a similar measure to cut personal income tax rates by 50% and corporate tax rates by 15% (70-30).
The second was that, the most polarizing culture issues were universally split in opposite directions. Every ballot initiative seeking to curtail access to abortion was defeated whereas every initiative that scaled back gay rights passed.
California voted to block parental notification before minors can have access to abortions (52-48), Colorado shot down an initiative to establish legal personhood from the moment of conception (73-27), Michigan voted to allow research on donated human embryos (53-47), and South Dakota voted against an initiative that would ban abortion save in cases of rape or when the health of the mother was in jeopardy (55-45).
Arizona and Florida both voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman (56-44 and 62-38 respectively). California voted to ban gay marriage outright (52-48). Arkansas voted to prohibit unmarried couples from adopting (57-43), which doesn’t seem anti-gay until you realize that gay people are prohibited from marrying in Arkansas.
Honestly, I was feeling pretty good last night. It’s was like when you have a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend and in the middle of all the fighting you start doing it and all that energy you spent fighting goes into the sex and half an hour later you’re both lying there on the floor in a crumpled heap and you can’t even remember why you were fighting in the first place. Of course, tomorrow you’ll remember. And then things’ll get ugly. But for that one moment, everything is perfect. Then again, my guy won, so I don’t know that it was the same on the other side.
Obama was inspiring. McCain spoke like a genuine statesman. The media were talking about the great step forward this marked for a country and the history of the civil rights movement. But as we talked about tearing down the wall of racial discrimination, we scrambled to erect another. Four states moved to restrict the rights of homosexual couples, prohibiting them from having the same rights as heterosexuals. On what grounds? A lot of people would feel like their marriage would mean less if everyone could do it. It strikes me as that this sanctity of marriage crap has the same dynamic to it that makes people get off on slipping past the velvet rope at the club while everyone else stands outside.
Help me understand this. Where does this come from? “Sorry Sally and Timmy. Mommy and Daddy have to get divorced because Steve and Gary next door just got married and now marriage is contaminated.” The sanctity of marriage? Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani getting married three times does nothing to diminish the sanctity of marriage. Britney Spears’ two-day marriage doesn’t diminish the sanctity of marriage. But somehow stopping people who love each other from marrying is going to ruin it for everyone. We had a word for this when I was a kid. What was it? Ah, yes. Bullshit!
You know what? Everyone else can skip down to the last paragraph. I want to address only those people who live in California. The rest of you can hang around, but you don’t need to read this next bit.
California: Hi. How’s it going? Are you sitting comfortably? Good. What the fuck is wrong with you? You passed Proposition 2 63-37, establishing rights for cows, and you shot down Prop 8. So livestock gets rights but gays? No dice. Just where the hell do you get the grapes to say, sorry Annie and Stacy, but I care more about the kind of life my dinner lived than I do yours? You showed greater compassion to a chicken, whose entire purpose is to eat and shit until such a time as it is slaughtered only to have a Frenchman faff about with its corpse for half an hour whereupon is it devoured in a flash of cutlery and a hail of garnish. Do not let me see any of you narcissistic burkes congratulating yourself over what you’ve done for veal when you gave the finger to your fellow man or so help me I will come out there and shove a battery cage so far up your ass you’ll be shitting onto a conveyor belt! You keep this up, and when my Death Ray is finished, you and Florida will be the first to go. That’s right Florida. Don’t think I didn’t see that! You know I expected as much from Arkansas, but not you California. Now you go to your room and think about what you did.
Everyone back? Right. Here’s a brief rundown on the remaining ballot initiatives. Again, these are just the ones I followed. There were a few others on gambling that didn’t interest me.
Missouri passed Prop C, mandating 15% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2012, passed 63-13. Also passed in Missouri, Amendment 1, which states that only English may be used during government proceedings. All government business in Missouri was already conducted in English, but now it’s the law, just in case anyone had any designs on busting into Urdu in a fit of dada-ist mania. I’m a little curious as to whether penalty is for breaking this idiot requirement.
And speaking of idiots, Iowa passed Measure D, which eliminated language prohibiting idiots from voting. The law now reads persons “adjudged mentally incompetent.” I can’t find any numbers on this one, only that it passed by more than 4 to 1.
Montana’s initiative 155 expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover an estimated 30,000 additional uninsured children by raising the income levels eligible (69-30).
Oregon defeated Measure 60, which sought to link teachers’ pay with job performance (59-41). Apparently they’re of the opinion that parents and school administrators actually have some clue about what they’re doing, as opposed to the faceless drones who make up the endless standardized tests we use to create the totally reliable and in no way absurdly misguided metrics.
South Carolina voted in favor of Amendment Question 1, which eliminates language from the state constitution setting the age of consent for unmarried women at 14 (52-48). State law has the age of consent set at 16 for both sexes. This clause was a largely forgotten fragment of the 113 year-old state constitution. Honestly, this passage changes nothing, legally. The civics geek in me just enjoys these things.
Arizona’s Proposition 202 would have abolished the need for business owners to use Arizona’s E-Verify system to ensure that workers are legally eligible to work. It was masquerading as a “get tough on employers” measure by stiffening penalties when in reality it would have made it much harder to catch employers engaging in illegal hiring. It went down 59-41.
And finally, Arizona’s vote on Proposition 101 is still too close to call with 70,000 votes left to count. Prop 101 uses very vague language to protect and individual’s right to choose private health care. It’s an attempt to block any regulation of the health care industry or government sponsored health care. The whole thing strikes me as shady as the language, as far as I can tell, does nothing to protect an individual’s rights and everything to protect insurance companies from any kind of oversight. You stay classy Arizona.