11.20.2008

Why is California special?

Elyas Bakhtiari over at the Moderate Voice asks why California's Prop 8 got all the attention, when there were similarly important and repressive measures on other states' ballots:
There’s something about the intense focus on Prop 8 that bugs me, though. I agree with the principles, but I can’t help but wonder if we’d seem the same passion for gay rights if Prop 8 hadn’t passed. What about Prop 1 in Arkansas, which essentially banned gays from adopting, or Prop 2 in Florida and Prop 102 in Arizona, which also banned gay marriage? These equally-repressive amendments have been all but overlooked by liberals outside of the respective states. I understand the symbolism of Prop 8 and the unique circumstance in which gay marriage had previously been legal in California. But I’m also a bit unsettled by liberals’ indifference to the rights of gays in the “flyover” states. If we’re talking about a civil rights issue, shouldn’t the amendments in Florida, Arkansas, and Arizona be just as offensive as the one in California?

I suspect it has something to do with the fact that California had actually seen the legalization of gay marriage, and thus had the bigger emotional pull of possibly taking a major step backward. The bigger the trench, the more recently it's been taken, the more necessary it seems to hold on to the gains made.