Sidelines and Sessions


On 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 8:02 pm

I’m totally down for a majority’s will being respected, but isn’t a constitutional amendment two-thirds? (EDIT: My bad. I didn’t know the different between a revision and an amendment in CA state law.) I’m glad that the voters’ will is being respected – when a court overturns a vote, however necessary, it creates the idea that votes don’t matter because courts rule. That’s dangerous – if people don’t think their voices are being heard, they’ll express their political opinions in other ways, perhaps violently.

But while I’m very much a straight man and personally conservative, this whole business has troubled me. Take me as an example:

I’m brown. Not necessarily Filipino, but I look it, so much so that it’s the first question anyone asks me. I think that’s part of why I identify with Fil-Am culture so much. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m reading Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart for class, and I’m disgusted by what Bulosan saw – a Filipino man beaten for saying “I love my (white) wife and (mixed) child.”

If I had been seen in public with a white woman seventy or eighty years ago, the good people of Los Angeles would have called me a “sex-crazed monkey” and ran me out of town on a rail.

Even if I had married that woman, had a child by her, Angelenos (and most everyone in general) would have called me a pervert, a stealer of women, an overturner of morality. The police would have beaten me black and blue, arrested me for attacking them, and I’d never see my wife and child again.

Forget seventy years ago – how about forty? In South Africa, I, as a Malay, wouldn’t have been able to marry an Afrikaner woman because of the Biblical injunction against “whoring after the heathen” – even if I was a Christian!

Now I have friends, relatives, people I love who voted Yes on 8 and who are happy that the Court has upheld their will. I don’t begrudge them that. The Court, as the saying goes, has spoken, and, like I said earlier, courts overturning votes creates dangerous precedents and can breed resentments fatal to a democratic society.

But I have to ask those loved ones, those friends – would you have stood with me in the LA of the 1920s and 30s, when the law said I couldn’t own land, couldn’t marry, couldn’t be a human being? Or would you have stood by, because the people had voted and courts had decided that it was a crime to be Asian in California?

Just wondering.



  1. This is the exact comparison that I always use.

    Thank you for putting it in a much more eloquent, neutral, sophisticated way than I ever could.

    Comment by Lizz — 2009/05/27 @ 8:06 pm

  2. […] don’t want to repeat what Sam said so eloquently, especially since he invoked Bulosan in a genius way I never would have thought of. But the point […]

    Pingback by Oh, Heart! » Blog Archive » when I hear the engine pass — 2009/05/27 @ 8:30 pm

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