Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why I'm not in full-throated celebration of the justified downing of both DOMA and Prop. 8

I am not celebrating today. I am not celebrating an obvious good decision in the DOMA and Prop. 8 cases before the Supreme Court because yesterday was so bad.

And let’s repeat that. Yesterday was bad. Hyper bad. Disastrously bad, is-this-a-country-worth-saving bad.

Let’s be clear about a couple of things. I am a Straight Black dude in California. I was never going to see any direct benefit from Marriage Equality. But my neighbors were. That was good enough for me.

So, when these same neighbors asked me to support their cause, I did. I gave money. I signed petitions. I supported the cause. I did the work that got LGBT Friendly Politicians into office to get the result we got today.

Now, I’m expecting the same force to be brought to bear for my cause, restoration of the Voting Rights Act...and to be real honest with you, I’m not optimistic I will.

Liberals...I know you. I’m one of you, and I know you. I know what you’re going to do. You’re going to spike the football and go home. It’s what you always do. You take the victory you got in hand, and celebrate like the job is finished. I’m watching it happen on my Twitter Timeline right now. YAY DOMA is dead! YAY Wendy Davis stopped that abortion bill.

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I’m not celebrating with everyone is that I’m not thrilled with recent relations between the LGBT and African-American Communities. There were lot of lonely days when I had to look my fellow African-Americans in the eye and tell them, as a community mind you, we were toxically homophobic. I won few friends doing that, and had a lot of Bible verses thrown back at me. When President Obama finally came out for Marriage Equality, that helped flip the script. Instead of being 60-40 Homophobic, now we’re 40-60 because of what he did.

But, just because my community has shown hostility to LGBT Americans, doesn’t mean I’m going to tolerate racism from the other side. I was not thrilled when the LGBT Community blamed African Americans at first for the passage of Prop. 8 in California, which turned out to be false. I was not thrilled when the LGBT Community treated this President with open contempt when DADT repeal didn’t happening fast enough. They went after him for defending DOMA at first. I was really not happy when some in the LGBT Community stepped up to defend a heckler who went after the first lady recently. When you are heckling the President like Joe Wilson did, it’s hard not to see that in racial terms. Did you do that to Bill Clinton when he was in office? To Hilliary Clinton?

Yeah, sure. You can say that African-Americans are a little touchy about respect due to our sitting Black President.

You can also say its not-negotiable.

To top it off, many African-Americans did notice and have taken offense when GLAAD decided to honor Bill Clinton this year with their Lifetime Achievement award.

You can say what you want, but the optics on that...and the timing on terrible.

Bill Clinton...the guy who signed DOMA and DADT into Law, the same laws that caused Gay Activists to heckle the President every chance they got...and not the same President who was instrumental in shooting them down.

Like I said. I’m not optimistic about any help coming in the Voting Rights Act fight from the LGBT Community.


For my part, I’ve already placed calls to my Representative and to my Senator this morning, with one more Senator to go. I’m basically at a “Why aren’t you dropping everything you’re doing right now and working on the VRA RIGHT THE HELL NOW” frame of mind.

I’m glad that the Senate is taking up hearings in a Month, with Patrick Leahy taking the lead in crafting legislation to fill the hole blown open by Justice Roberts.

But this is still a "Why aren’t you dropping everything you’re doing right now and working on the VRA RIGHT THE HELL NOW” moment.

I am in California. My County is not one of the one’s subject to Section 4 or 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But you know what? My brothers are. My sisters are. They live in places like Shelby County, Alabama. They live in the heart of the old Confederacy. Hell, my Father lives in Texas.

Right now, if a Voting District wants to place a burden of a costly or expensive Voter ID on someone, they can.

Right now, if a State wants to give ten working Voting Machines to a quote-unquote White District, and give one non-functional Voting Machine to a Black District, they can.

Right now, if a Voting District wants to redistrict itself in a manner than dissolves Latino or African American representation, they can.

Right now, if a State wants to decide that certain forms of State-issued ID are valid to Vote, yet other kinds of State-issued ID are not valid to vote, they can do that do.

Right now, there’s nothing to stop a State-Elected Secretary of State from willy-nilly purging the voter rolls, and having those purged Voters all be of a particular ethnicity.

There’s nothing to stop Counties from setting aside Local Election results who’s results they don’t like. (Yes, this has happened).

Y’see. There was a law that did stop all that. It was called the Voting Rights Act. And yesterday the Supreme Court blew a hole in it. Basically made it impossible to enforce until Congress acts.

People think that my right to vote hasn’t been hurt by what happened today, but it has.

You think that by watering down someone else's vote in some other state, it doesn't effect me here in California, or change national results?

People think that I’m talking about the past, that this stuff happened in the 1960s. Most of this stuff happened eight months ago in the last election. There’s even more in Ginsburg’s Dissent to Shelby vs. Holder from the run-up to the 2006 Reauthorization. And Justice Ginsberg says in her Dissent she could have gone on and “fill the pages of the legislative record”

People think that Voter Discrimination is is about someone at a Desk somewhere in the South telling some Black person to their face that they can’t vote.


Voter Discrimination takes place when you set up a machinery intentionally designed to make it harder for someone to vote, no matter what their color or creed.

And yesterday, the Supreme Court said that was okay.

Even though this reauthorization passed 98-0 in the Senate and a nearly equally ridiculous number in the House...even though there were massive amounts of hearings on the matter in the run-up, the Supreme Court said the Section 4 list is hopelessly outdated.

Okay...but there was a provision in the Voting Rights Act allowing Section 4 Territories to opt out...if they could prove they weren’t discriminating for a period of ten years.

Is Shelby County trying to tell me that the price of not-discriminating for ten years was too high? That over the 50 year history of the Voting Rights Act, they couldn’t get their act together enough to not discriminate against their citizens?

No, instead Shelby County had to shoot down the whole enforcement mechanism. At least they tried to, and mostly succeeded.

What Shelby County cost me yesterday, and I blame Shelby County for this, is not my right to vote, but the protection of my vote...which is in equal measure. Because without the protection of that right to vote, we are not a country. We are certainly not a Democracy. We are just a bunch of tenants living on land owned by the actual citizens, the only one’s who do matter.

Which I realize may have been the point.

My people have lived through this before. In the days of slavery, and the days of Jim Crow.

We thought we had lived past them. We were wrong.

And now, anyone...and I mean anyone...who gets in our way, who doesn’t help, who doesn’t put their back into this fight is going to pay a price.

This is about the Country.

America is an idea...and the idea is dying. We best do something about it. Yesterday.