This article appeared in the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Massachusetts, on 11/13/04,
Page A6, Opinion; Copyright 2004 by Beth David

Liberal activists still in mourning

It's done. The election is over. We have a decision. My flaming liberal e-mail in-box immediately received mournful writings from my equally liberal friends.

One was particularly touching. It is from the brother of a lesbian friend who has been in a committed relationship for years. She and her partner have lived together through sickness, financial hardship, all the things you expect in a long-term, committed relationship.

My friend's brother writes to his sister: "It is with a heavy heart that I accept the results of this day's elections. I regret to inform you that my vote was insufficient in securing equal rights for gay/lesbian unions in Montana. It will have to suffice that I make a point of telling you both, personally, that I not only support, but cherish your union. If ever there comes a time when either of your spousal rights are challenged or denied, rest assured that my family will honor your wishes/rights in any courtroom, hospital or church in the land. My children will always know you both as aunts."

My friend is blessed to have this brother. Many gay people are not as blessed.

Another writer says he feels "utterly betrayed" by his fellow Americans. He writes eloquently. And he is frightened.

I fear his voice will be silenced.

Lately, my writer friends have been warning each other about the Patriot Act and the insidious, broad spying powers it bestows on the government. They send tips on how to do research without leaving a trail. This, in my beloved America.

This election has given the Bush administration a green light on these things. A green light to tell gays to love someone else; to snoop inside my very computer; to try to drag women back to the horror of back-alley abortions; to launch pre-emptive strikes on any country this president fears or hates.

My friends are bummed.

My feminist, activist friends, particularly the abortion rights activists, are better at handling this. This is not new to us. We harbored no illusions about the tolerance of the American people. Our opponents routinely call us "baby killers." And terrorism found us years ago.

Yet, we persevere. We, too, know the word "resolute." We will continue to work toward our goal of equality for everyone, not just those privy to the "ownership society."

My gay friends are the most disappointed. They say things such as, "I didn't realize how hated we were, how powerless we are." Some truly fear for their safety.

But I tell them to ignore the Republican rhetoric. This country is still divided. For every person who hates us, there is at least one other who cares for us. We do not stand alone. President Bush had to work for every one of those votes. And he will have to fight for every backward step.

The pundits support my friends' belief that social issues such as abortion and gay marriage drove this election.

Personally, I don't buy it. I suspect those issues motivated the usual crowd: the self-righteous, the haters, the activists. The casual voter has never decided strictly on his or her rights.

I believe fear drove this election: fear of terrorism, probably fear of gays, maybe fear of minorities taking too much from white men, and certainly fear of strong women.

President Bush offers simple answers to complex questions. Well, it's my turn. Simply and clearly, in uncertain times people are afraid to change anything. The problems we know are safer than the problems we don't know. That's why he got re-elected. At least, I hope that's why he did.

~ Beth David of Fairhaven is a freelance writer

This story appeared on Page A6 of The Standard-Times on November 13, 2004.