Thoughts from abroad on the ups and downs of Election Day

Obama wins!
We hear that Obama wins! | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Early in the morning of November 4th, our friend Jennie went into labor at her home in Philadelphia. Instead of immediately rushing out the door, she and her husband Amos waited until 7 a.m., when they could stop by their polling place to vote for Obama on their way to the birth center. The poll workers, who Jennie described as “alarmed” by her condition, were sensible enough to let them cut to the front of the line. Their first child, Beckett, was born later on Election Day 2008.

On the other side of the world, Todd and I went to sleep in Jaipur, India just as the polls opened in our home state of California and, because of the time difference, we had to wake up early the next morning for the results. As we were talking on Skype with Todd’s parents in New York, his dad shouted “They’ve called it! Obama’s won!!” as the sound of thousands of madly cheering people reached us from the TV news show playing in the background in their home in New York.

November 4th was a very good day. Since then, Todd and I have continued our travels through India and onto Vietnam (yes, we owe you some travel stories) and on our way, we’ve talked to tourists, touts, shop owners, rickshaw drivers, new friends that we’ve made on the global road, and friends back home – and the collective reaction is one of tremendous relief. Being beyond our home borders has made it more clear than ever how strongly the world’s economies and futures are tied to that of the U.S. It’s also really nice that, for the first time in eight years, we’re not apologizing for our President.

Yet, Election Day 2008 is bittersweet. California’s Prop 8 passed by a very narrow margin, effectively banning same-sex marriage in the state. Fifty-two percent of Californians voted to deny civil rights to a group of people based on their sexual orientation. Fifty-two percent decided my friends Kim and Sharna‘s love is somehow less equal and less deserving of legal recognition than the love Todd and I share.

This issue is far from over. As the legal challenges to overturn Prop 8 begin, thousands of people are taking to the streets and to the internet in protest. As traveling the world has already shown me, there is more love and humanity in this world than can be imagined. And, as the historic election of Obama as President reminds all of us: Intolerance can be beaten. Change can happen so don’t give up. You just have to get out there and do something about it.

> Take Action! Visit Equality California and to find dates for protests near you and other ways you can help.