I had tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face as I left my polling place yesterday. I had just had the privilege of casting a vote for Barack Obama, and I had done so with two of my children's hands holding the marking pen along with mine.
What an honor it was to be able to vote for this man for President of the United States of America. To choose him, with his intellect and indefinable talent, to lead our country. It felt like I was voting to shape our history, and not just our racial history, but who we will be as a country as the world's people continue to be more and more interconnected.
The honor brought tears to my eyes several times during the course of the day; having two of my children with me, participating, reminded me that this vote is about them - it's about the future - and I was choked up with pride.
We watched the election returns with our children, and when the west coast polls closed and the networks went ahead and projected Obama as the President-Elect, I began to cry again. My older daughter noticed, and said, "Mom, are you CRYING?!"
"Yes, honey, I am. I'm just so proud of America today."
After the last two elections, I wasn't sure I would ever feel that way again.
We let our girls stay up for a few extra minutes to watch Obama's speech. (It's nice to live on the west coast!)
"MOM! You're crying AGAIN!"
I tried to tell them what a big deal this is. What it means to have the first African-American President. They were surprised that in the history of the United States, there had never been a non-white President. They can't grasp the significance - in their minds, what does skin color have to do with anything? That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.
We're so glad our children were able to witness this event, to go to the polling place and make the mark, to see the numbers come in, to hear the words spoken about the occasion.
It feels like a new day!
There was one other mark on the ballot that I had my children help me with. Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in California.
After voting for President, I put The Boy back down and went through the ballot quickly - mark, mark, mark, mark, mark.
Then I got to Prop 8. "Help me with this one, this one is really important too," I said.
This vote was for my children, for everyone's children.
We all grabbed the pen and marked the NO spot.
Children who grow up and discover that they are heterosexual are no better than those who grow up and discover that they are LGBT. No more deserving of acceptance. I want my children to know that, no matter whom they fall in love with when they grow up. We marked the NO spot.
The ballot measure is not called yet, but so far, it is passing. 52% of the votes counted so far (95% have been counted) have been "Yes" votes. Votes in favor of discrimination. In the state of California.
In the state of California, it is still OK to discriminate against LGBT people. They are people. We voted to keep chickens in more humane cages (Prop 2), AND we voted to discriminate against people.
California, I don't understand you.
My elation and pride this morning are incomplete.