A lot of bad things happened this week, as they do all the time. Ongoing disasters like Myanmar's cyclone and China's earthquake spring easily to mind. But some good things happened in the last seven days, so I'm gonna talk about them. In reverse chronological order:
- Gay marriage became legal in California today, as a result of a Supreme Court decision which ruled that an earlier ban on it was unconstitutional. This makes it legal only at the state level, which still denies couples federal benefits*, and the marriages might all get annulled if a ballot initiative goes through in November to modify the state constitution to make it illegal again. But tell that to the thousands of people who turned up in the Castro tonight to celebrate. Mostly it was just an excuse for a party, with San Franciscans pulling their usual trick of manufacturing an instant parade, complete with a music truck, several DJs and hundreds of people in costume. However, in amongst them were couples holding hands, walking together, quietly ready to take the next step now that it's no longer unfairly denied. I'm not going to get into the arguments for and against marriage versus civil partnership, except to say that you never really want something until somebody tells you you're not good enough to have it.
- John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama as nominee and as president. This is an influential endorsement, probably second only to a Gore endorsement, and it is (probably intentionally) well-timed, coming right after Obama's crushing defeat in West Virginia. Edwards appeals to precisely the working-class, white voters that are Obama's biggest weakness. I think Edwards is angling for the VP slot. Even more astonishingly, I think Clinton is too. She has started shifting her talk to "whatever position [she] serve[s] in" instead of "when I'm the nominee", and has ceased to attack Obama. If she's realized she's not going to get the nomination, the only thing she can still be hoping for is the VP position. I personally think it's unlikely given how bitter the campaign became, but she really has a lock on those blue-collar white people, so it could still happen.
- Republicans lost a "ruby red" seat in Mississippi. It should have been an easy win, but instead the democrat one by an unheard-of 8-point margin, and this is the third time this year a special election has gone this way for the Republicans. Not only does it further solidify the size of the democratic majority in congress, but it's also a really, really good sign for the general that republicans are being so solidly rejected by the electorate.
- Finally, last Saturday, crazy vote-getting superheroine Jen and I headed out to a supermarket parking lot in Bayview as part of a nationwide voter registration drive for the Obama campaign. We registered only about 5 voters, but that's pretty good for this sort of work. What really made the whole thing worthwhile was one guy we registered, who came up to Jen and quietly asked her if he could still register to vote. Because, he said, he'd been in prison 15 years ago, and when he got out they told him couldn't vote anymore. This is actually true in 10 states (with a strong correlation to institutional racism in those states), but not in California, a fact we confirmed and then signed him up, filling out the form for him and letting him make his mark. He'd not voted in 15 years because some jackass lied to him, and the only reason he found out was because we were standing in the car park of his local supermarket on Saturday morning. That's a wonderful feeling, and a strong candidate for the most worthwhile thing I'll do all year.
Feeling: The fierce urgency of now.
Listening to: Always be my Baby by Mariah Carey, because I don't care what you think.
Procrastinating: packing for Las Vegas tomorrow. I had to go once.
* For instance, immigration rights, so I can't just get married for a green card. But thank you to all 100 mostly-straight people who suggested this. Way to sanctify the institution of marriage there.