Vardibidian has been posting a lot of good stuff lately. For example, I found Walt Whitman's "Election Day, November, 1884" unexpectedly moving.

. . . I was going to say more about the Presidential election here, but on second thought I think I'll hold off for a while.

I will, though, note that I'm distressed about the 11 states that passed anti-same-sex-marriage constitutional amendments. But I continue to be mildly heartened that (last I heard) the citizenry at large is opposed to making such a change to the US constitution. San Francisco and Massachusetts probably raised unreasonable hopes of swift change; change at the national level is usually slow. According to Wikipedia's article on miscegenation:

Interracial marriage was prohibited by state laws, the constitutonality of which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in "Pace v. Alabama" (1883). That decision was not overturned until the United States Supreme Court ruled in "Loving v. Virginia" (1967). At that time, 16 states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

. . .

While miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional in the United States by the Supreme Court in 1967, those laws were not completely repealed in individual states until November 2000 when Alabama became the last state to repeal its law. According to Salon.com: "In November 2000, after a statewide vote in a special election, Alabama became the last state to overturn a law that was an ugly reminder of America's past, a ban on interracial marriage. The one-time home of George Wallace and Martin Luther King Jr. had held onto the provision for 33 years after the Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional. Yet as the election revealed—40 percent of Alabamans voted to keep the ban—many people still see the necessity for a law that prohibits blacks and whites from mixing blood."

Steps forward, steps back. Change is, generally, slow. But it does happen over time.

3 Responses to “Politics”

  1. Bill S.

    My one concern is that the anti-same sex proposal that passed in my state (MI) is so vague that it may be applied to domestic partnership benefits that are offered by employers, in addition to preventing things like civil unions.

  2. Nick Mamatas

    Actually, change can often happen very frequently. There are punctuations of change, followed by some level of retrenchment. Political initiative is often decisive.

  3. Jed

    Bill: Yeah, I didn’t mean to downplay the negative effects of the amendments, especially the ones in states like MI where they’re outlawing civil union as well as same-sex marriage. On the plus side, though, there are already lawsuits in the works to overturn a couple of those votes (according to the end of a Washington Post article).

    I remain optimistic that in the long run (say, by 50 years from now), same-sex marriage will be legal. But yeah, that doesn’t help much in the short and medium term.

    Anyone interested in more info might take a look at the 50-state rundown on gay marriage at stateline.org.

    Nick: Agreed, change can certainly happen rapidly and/or frequently. But it seems to me that changes in societal attitudes often take a long time to happen; often, even, don’t really take hold until new generations grow up with the new ideas.

    My usual example is recycling. (Sorry if I’ve said this before.) When I was a kid, recycling was this wacky thing that my hippie family did. These days, it’s not universal but it’s very widespread (in the US, anyway). It’s possible that that change happened suddenly, but my impression is that it was a gradual one, spreading slowly until one day I looked around and it was an accepted part of the way things work in a lot of places.

    Even with bigger and more intense changes—the civil rights movement, say—my impression is that the change in societal attitude has gone slowly, and is still going on; certainly there’s been some big jumps forward followed by backlash, but it feels to me like overall progress there (again in terms of attitude change) has been steady but slow. But I’m not a historian, and I suspect you’ll be able to provide dozens of examples to back you up. So maybe I should just say that some societal change in attitudes seems to me to move slowly.


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