Saturday Morning Optimism

February 25, 2006

My sister is visiting this weekend. Last night, we were talking about San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. My sis expressed frustration that he had legalized gay marriage in the city right before the 2004 election. She contends that the celebratory spectacle of gays and lesbians getting their matrimonial groove on in SF mobilized homophobes across the country to vote, tipping the election to Shrub. Had Newsom waited, she ventured, we would not be suffering through 4 more years of Bush.

Whether or not this might have been true, I can’t say. I’m uniquely unqualified to make that judgement. I live in the Bay Area, and some of my best friends, neighbors, and co-workers are gay. Newsom’s move filled my heart with excitement and joy. Friends in committed, long-term relationships got married. I’m never privy to water cooler chat that includes anti-gay diatribes from right-wingers, as my sister so often has been in the places where she has lived.

Why am I talking about an issue that seems so dated? Here’s why: Perhaps South Dakota’s abortion ban bill might have a similar effect of mobilizing otherwise apathetic voters (helloooooo single women with sex lives!)

San Francisco’s gay marriage legalization made every homophobe in the country stand up and be counted. Perhaps they never figured the door to gay marriage would be kicked down, and then it was. Perhaps all those young women who take reproductive rights for granted never figured that the door to safe, legal abortion might get slammed and padlocked by politicos in Pierre. And then it was.