1 Giant Leap for Liberals, 1 Small Step Back for Gay Rights
Hop aboard, Barack Obama voters. Jump on, Democrats. African-Americans, civil rights activists and historians sit up front, just behind benches reserved for those with disabilities. Find a seat, progressives, feminists and abortion rights supporters. ThereEs even a spot on this blue bandwagon for formerly red suburbanites.
Whoa! Not so fast, gays.
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy u tonight is your answer," Obama told a cheering throng in Grant Park and millions more watching worldwide on Election Night.
The answer was a sucker punch for suburban gay couples, who still must only hope America will one day be a place where their dreams are possible.
On a night when liberals celebrated many election victories, voters banned same-sex marriages in Florida and Arizona and effectively prohibited gays from adopting or even serving as foster parents in Arkansas. In blue California, voters reversed a law that legalized gay marriage.
"I was gutted," says Deeya Pavelle, 53, of Palatine, who mourned the anti-gay votes with her partner, Dayle Roberts, 54. "It was absolutely shocking to think one of the most progressive states had voted it down out of ignorance and fear."
Californians loved Obama and voted against an anti-abortion measure u and then took away gaysE civil rights that had been on the books.
"I was devastated from the simple standpoint California had it," Roberts says of gay marriage.
"Wow, what a week! First the exhilaration over an Obama win, then the depression over those anti-gay initiatives," e-mails John and Char Cepek of suburban Cook County. John is national board president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Watching ObamaEs triumph reminded gay rights activist Rick Garcia of the emotional high heEd felt as a child, when his Catholic home displayed a portrait of John Kennedy next to one of the pope.
"And then I saw the California results," says Garcia, the director of public policy for Equality Illinois, a statewide group that fights for the civil rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered Illinoisans. …