Friday, November 7, 2008

Change? Hope? Not for everyone...

This posting is soap-relevant, I promise! It just takes a minute to get there :).

The election of Barack Obama has been heralded in many corners, as a positive sign of the evolution of America. Tolerance of racial diversity. Tolerance for a progressive social agenda. Adoption of a more conciliatory international stance. A liberal agenda that understands the need to spread opportunity to more people. Alas, there is a fly in this happy ointment.

The passage of a number of "defense-of-marriage" constitutional amendments (commonly referred to as anti-gay-marriage votes), including in a state as progressive as California, suggests that there is much more evolution to occur. As I write this:

  • In California, Proposition 8 (Ban on Gay Marriage) received 5,424,916 "yes" votes (52%) and 4,932,086 "no" votes. Lest we think this somehow suggests California is universally conservative, the same percentage (52%) voted AGAINST abortion limits.
  • In Arizona, Proposition 102 (Ban on Gay Marriage) received 1,078,495 "yes" votes (56%) and 835,013 "no" votes (44%).
  • In Florida, Amendment 2 (Ban on Gay Marriage) received 4,755,789 "yes" votes (62%) and 2,913,740 "no" votes (38%).
So, I won't go off on a soapbox here, about how vile this is. I won't mention that is suggests civil rights remains a joke for gay and straight couples who want to commit to and love each other outside of marriage.

What I will mention is these election results were no "poll". This is not a random selection of individuals, some small panel that we're not sure is representative of some larger population. This IS the population. Adding in the results from the 2004 Federal election, gay marriage bans have been supported more often than not. What that tells us is that -- even in a year where voters were willing not to ban abortion and to elect a person of color -- majority opinion is STILL against LGBT men and women.

How does this relate to soaps?

Well, as I write this, ATWT's Nuke STILL has not had sex. The latest obstacle to their union concerns a school election in which Luke stuffed the ballot box. Noah "can't lie" to protect it is clear the relationship is about to go through a rough patch. Objective viewers know this is just the latest in a string of unending obstacles for our boys. On the heels of a long dry spell before the men could start kissing, and Procter and Gamble phone poll about whether they SHOULD be on the has been a long period of frustration for viewers who wanted an honest portrayal of gay male sexuality. Not lascivious, but honest.

Suddenly, in the bright light of these polls, P&G's conservatism doesn't seem quite so malevolent. seems almost wisely self-protective. If the MAJORITY of otherwise progressive men and women in America still can't stand the thought of same sex unions...they surely don't want to see it on their TV screens. In the same week, Grey's Anatomy abruptly scuttled a lesbian relationship. All My Children, mercifully, seems to be doing a decent job with Bianca's latest story and relationship.

For some time, a number of us have been angry at P&G for, apparently, timidity in the portrayal of Nuke as a couple. Suddenly, P&G seems awfully courageous to me. America, apparently, doesn't want to acknowledge, condone, or support the existence of committed same-sex unions.

In the end, I think I've stopped being angry. Now, I'm just sad. It's funny how, on the heels of the Obama victory, I end up feeling more like "no change, no hope". In that context, I'll take Nuke in any form I can get it. It's practically an act of sedition, apparently, that they are even allowed to exist.

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