My original plan was to get to my polling place extra early, because my fiancé needed to vote before going to work. And she goes to work very early. But, her absentee ballot miraculously arrived yesterday, so it wasn't necessary for her to go to the polls. She drove by our location at 6:10am and called to tell me that there was no line at all, so I should just get up and go.
I got there by about 6:20am, and there were four people in line waiting. It was a little chilly out, and it had rained all night, so I waited in my car for a little longer, and then got out at about 6:30am, and took the seventh position in line. I read my book, listened to people talk, and watched the line grow.
At 7:00am on the nose, a man came out and yelled, "The polls are open!" The crowd, which was probably closing in on 75 people (I'm a terrible judge of crowd size, but I think that's a pretty good guess) at this point, cheered. I choked up, and tried to hold it together. In 2004, I had felt like things were going to change, and I had sensed the excitement in the crowd at my polling place. But it was nothing like that cheer from the crowd this morning. I didn't take a count or anything, but I'm willing to bet most of the people in my neighborhood were making the correct decision today.
An older woman named Helene was originally responsible for looking up people on the lists and crossing them off, but she was removed from that duty before I came up to the table. I think Helene may have been a little bit slow, but she was doing the best she could to help, and the other volunteers treated her with respect, which I appreciated. When a gentleman was crossing my name off the list, Helene said, "Good morning. How are you today?" I couldn't help but smile at her big grin as I told her I was doing well. "You look beautiful," was her response. Considering I hadn't yet showered, had thrown on an old sweatshirt and my standard Red Sox hat, and have a cold sore as a result of the stress of this election, I knew Helene was a liar. But that's okay. Helene helped make it all the more fun to go and vote.
I had my cheat sheet so I wouldn't make any mistakes, and I made doubly sure my ink went onto the paper for my "no" vote on Prop 8. I picked up my sticker, walked past the rest of the people in line, and got in my car at 7:12am. Just one person, doing her part to change the world. Simple as that.
My boss, as it turns out, is a supporter of Prop 8. I found this out over the weekend, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I nearly vomited. I really had to take some deep breaths. Turns out she's Mormon, and I learned of her support of Proposition H8te when I read her Facebook status and it said, "Just went to a Yes on 8 rally." Awesome. Now, I telecommute, so I rarely see this woman. But we've become friendly, to the extent that she sends me pictures of her kids now and again. I had no idea about her political leanings, and now that I know them, I'm sick just thinking about taking money from her.
This woman (who knows about this blog, but I'm past the point of caring about that) has, right now, as her profile picture on Facebook, a shot of someone (possibly her, but the woman's back is to the camera) holding a sign that reads "Proposition 8 = Religious Freedom." Of all the arguments I've seen in support of Prop 8, that one really just takes the cake. It seems to be deliberately trying to confuse those who would vote on the issue. Think about it. In their minds, religious freedom means that they believe in something, and the rest of the state (and country) has to believe it, too, to the point where it gets written into the state constitution. Freedom indeed.
To me, the better sign would read, "No on Prop 8 = Religious Freedom." As in, you have the right to believe that your god is hateful and discriminatory, and I have the right to believe otherwise. Neither one of us has the right to put either belief into law, because religious doctrine is not supposed to have a place in our legal system in this country. So, I'm not asking that you change your churches or schools or religious practices, or that you stop believing in god. I am asking only that you don't use that belief to punish others. I am asking that we all get the same rights, which should include the ability to marry a consenting adult of either gender. Your religion does not get to impose upon my life. That, dear voters, is religious freedom.
If you're in California, remember to vote No on Prop 8.