Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Voting On Civil Rights Is A Bad Idea

Well here we go again in three states, Maine, Michigan and Washington, queer rights are up to a vote tomorrow. Putting minority rights up to a vote is a really fucking terrible idea. Don’t believe me? Well maybe a little history will help persuade you.

Up until 1963 California, specially my hometown of Los Angeles, was one of the most rigidly segregated states in the union. This was not enforced by Jim Crow laws as in the South but by covenants and conditions on deeds. In the really racist wasp enclaves this not only precluded sales to Asians, Blacks and Latinos but Jews and sometimes Catholics. In 1963 the Rumford Fair Housing Act was passed that made it illegal for anyone selling, renting, or leasing a residence to discriminate based on race, creed, color or national origin. This was in fact very unpopular and in 1964 proposition 14 was placed on the ballot to repeal housing protections. It passed 65.39% to 34.61%. The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down. If not for the ‘judicial activism’ so loathed by conservatives California would still be one of the most segregated places in the world.

So while I hope we win tomorrow I still now that these issues should never be up for a vote. Until we get a fully inclusive ENDA and court cases upholding our rights we still live at the sufferance of a bigoted majority.

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