For the past several hours I’ve been staring into the darkness and begging myself to shutup so I can get a bit of needed rest. But I’m too anxious and my mind is racing. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping until this damn election is over. It’s not so much the presidential election that has me worried. It’s all of these ballot measures that are so important but have somehow been forgotten in the higher ratings mud-slinging and fear-mongering of the presidential candidates (Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still completely freaked out about the presidential election, especially after seeing all the crazies on TV and YouTube).

I cast my ballot about three weeks ago by mail and was then able to convince myself that I had done my part and I would just have to wait for the results. That was, until tonight (or, last night, as it were). I went to a Proposition Party with my boyfriend. No, this was not a party where people proposition you. It was a party where each person was given a ballot proposition to research and discuss with the group so we could each make educated decisions about how we will vote on Tuesday. And that’s when I realized how truly scary this election is, at least here in California.

The people who write these ballot measures are probably happy as pie that the presidential election has stolen the spotlight because some of their propositions are going to get passed just because people don’t know enough to vote them down. Before I voted I took the time to read the voter’s guide so I had a pretty good grasp of the issues when I voted (and I’m proud to say that I didn’t change my vote on any of the propositions after having them explained in more detail). However, those initiatives on which I voted ‘No’ are much scarier to a left-leaner like myself than I had previously thought.

Take Proposition 4, for instance. This initiative is a California constitutional amendment to make it illegal for anyone under age 18 to get an abortion without the doctors first notifying an adult relative. Or, in extreme cases, the girl can take her case to court and ask a judge for permission to get an abortion. Now, I can see how parents would think this is a great idea. And, really, it does sound pretty good on paper. I know I’d want my daughter to tell me if she was going in for an abortion.

But then, I’d hope my daughter and I would have an open and understanding relationship and that she’d be coming to me to help her through such a difficult decision. There are girls out there who don’t have that type of relationship with their parents (I know I didn’t) and whose parents would likely punish them and force them to make a different decision. And there are the cases of abuse. Or the cases where the girl would rather commit suicide than to face telling her parents.

Even so, I can see how parents can be worried that their daughters wouldn’t come to them with such a serious decision. What bothers me about this amendment is the small print (well, OK, the big print too. I obviously voted on this before I knew about the small print, but the small print would have changed my mind had I been leaning toward a ‘Yes’ vote). Small print: This amendment gives parents the right to sue doctors up to four years after they find out about an abortion, even if their daughter tells them after she’s an adult. This will likely raise legal and insurance costs for those doctors who perform abortions – even before they ever get sued. Also, this amendment would make public all judicially decided non-notification of parents, putting judges’ jobs in jeopardy if they judge too often in favor of girls seeking abortions.

And what about the whole going in front of a judge to ask for an abortion? Even though I know I have the right to choose, I still know abortion is an unpopular decision in America and I would not want to face the protesters and the public on my way to court. Nor would I want this to become a public matter. I can imagine that making the choice to abort a fetus is not an easy decision for anybody. And I, for one, would want it to remain a very private matter (isn’t this what got Roe v. Wade passed in the first place?). Forcing teenagers to make this public, even if just to their parents seems to violate everything the Roe v. Wade decision put in place.

Californians voted against this proposition in 2005 and 2006. Both times I sat at my computer refreshing the results screen every two seconds to reassure myself that the measure would be defeated. Luckily, this time around Proposition 8 (the gay-marriage ban) has somehow usurped the attention of the religious right and has kept the anti-abortion legislation out of the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still going to be voting on it. And the fact that we haven’t been hearing much about it really scares me because it could be keeping the closet pro-choicers in the dark as well.

And this is just one of the issues that’s been going through my head all night. I’m still horrified by the abundance of anti-gay-marriage people there are still in this state – one of the bluest states in the union. In 2008. When I first saw the gay-marriage ban on the ballot I thought, “Yeah, but this is California. There’s no way that would pass.” But the last few weeks have really shown me how wrong I was. I’m terrified of these Yes on 8 people – not just because they’re voting Yes on 8, but also because so many of them seem to believe taking away civil liberties is the only important thing on the ballot this election season. I’ve seen interviews with some 8 supporters who say they don’t even plan to vote for president because that’s not what’s important right now. The presidential election. Not important. But taking away the right to marry is?

There’s also Prop. 3 and Prop. 9. And Prop. 6 and Prop. 7. There are so many propositions that sound great at first, but just below the surface there’s something there saying, “Neener, neener, neener! We got one past you!” And now I can’t sleep at night.

I know the world will keep turning if the election doesn’t go the way I want. I know all of the propositions will be challenged in court, regardless of which way they go. Or they’ll end up on the next ballot, yet again.

And I know we’ll survive four more years with an ineffective president.

I just want something more.


P.S. I’m curious about what’s going on in other states. What are some of the big propositions you’ve got on your ballots?

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REBECCA ADLER is from Sacramento, CA, where she is a grad student in applied linguistics and works as a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in Jane & Jane, Sacramento Business Journal, and Comstock's Business Magazine, among others. She also keeps a book review blog and can be found on Facebook or Twitter.

One response to “California’s Propositions Are Keeping Me Up At Night”

  1. Original Comment Thread Below:


    Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell
    2008-10-31 08:52:31

    How embarrassed am I to say that I have no clue?

    You’ve just inspired me to find out and report back.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by jmb
    2008-10-31 09:26:00

    There is a tangible angst in the air,
    the knowing that there is no solution
    and a shame at the way we have all handled ourselves over this
    – the knowing deep that the symbolism isn’t pretty,
    that the muddy reflection is one of self-hate
    and loathing
    and that there is no one to blame but ourselves
    for the messes we are in.

    I fear the division all this will bring
    and has already stirred
    because the
    only tonic for division is suffering
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-10-31 10:41:03

    JMB, you always put things so eloquently. And I agree completely. Talking about politics has been especially difficult this season because the division among the parties is so extreme. People feel as though it has to be their way OR ELSE. I know I sometimes have these thoughts myself, but I always try to bring myself around and remember that things will keep moving forward. Hopefully there will be less combativeness on the political frontlines sometime in the future (although I don’t see it happening anytime soon).
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Dawn Corrigan
    2008-10-31 10:17:35

    Not to mention the fact that when a woman is facing an abortion decision, the clock is ticking pretty fast. Are they guaranteeing they’ll get those young women in front of a judge while she’s in the same trimester when she made the decision, assuming, as you pointed out, that she can muster the incredible courage it would take to go public to ASK A JUDGE FOR PERMISSION to terminate her pregnancy?

    Anyway. We have a “one man one woman” marriage ballot measure here in Florida, too, which is adding bigoted coals to Newcastle because there are already, count ‘em, TWO statutes in Florida prohibiting same-sex marriage. The new ballot attempts to go a step further by adding language that would prohibit judges from overturning the law. Is it just me, or does that sound like … oh, I dunno … martial law? The removal of due process? Honestly, I almost want it to pass so we can watch the Supreme Court make some hay with that latter clause. At least, I hope they would! (Naturally, I voted against it though, of course. My half assed pretend wish to see it pass is just a way of bracing myself for the inevitable.)

    We also have a ballot measure to amend archaic language in the state constitution that limits the ability of ineligible aliens to own real property. The others are fairly undramatic measures concerning property tax and land conservation.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-10-31 10:48:34

    I’d love to see the Federal Supreme Court take on the gay-marriage issue but so far they seem to be dodging it quite well. I cannot believe Florida is trying to make a law that prohibits the courts from overturning a law if found illegal. I’m shocked that something like that can even make it onto a ballot. But then, I was surprised to find that gay marriage was back on our ballot when it was just found to be illegal by the California Supreme Court. Who knew?

    Anyway, I’m with you with the feeling of resignation about this issue. Some of my gay friends have invited me out to celebrate on election night, but I can’t stand the thought of being in a gay bar if it’s announced that Prop. 8 has passed. Just thinking about it now makes my heart sink and I can already feel the air rushing out of the room as everyone realizes the gravity of what they’ve just heard. It will be too much for me to bear if I’m surrounded by all those grave faces.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Zoe Brock
    2008-10-31 11:11:05

    VOTE YES ON R!!!!!!!

    The George W Bush Sewage Treatment Plant!!!!!!!!!

    please? xxx
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Brad Listi
    2008-11-01 08:43:29

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by karyn
    2008-11-02 16:22:17

    The craziest Amendment in Colorado is (and I am not making up the title) “The Personhood Amendment”.

    Amendment 48 (a) defines the term “person” to “include any human being from the moment of fertilization” and (b) applies the new definition of person to all the rights garanteed by the Colorado constitution.

    Bye-bye Roe v. Wade! (ACK!)

    Even though it looks like this initiative will not pass, I find the fact that it was even was on the ballot to change the Colorado constitution terrifying. (thus I am voting YES for Referendum O — the initiative that will make it more difficult to add crazy-ass amendments such as this to the state constitution!)
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-03 12:12:21

    I just love how they word these propositions. The anti-gay marriage one on the California ballot is actually called “The Marriage Protection Act.” Semantics can really help them to win votes from the people who don’t actually read the propositions. SCARY. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you in Colorado.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Kaite
    2008-11-05 19:10:33

    In Michigan, we had one for the legalization of medical mary-jane and another to decrease the restrictions on stem cell research (which was confusing as the material for the research would not come from aborted material, so much as saved/frozen embryos).
    Both passed, I’m happy to say. I don’t really care about pot, but I am happy to see that Michigan is getting into stem cell research. Finally this state makes me happy.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-05 20:53:34

    Yay! That’s good to hear. I read that a few other states legalized medical marijuana as well. And Massachusetts decriminalized it which is pretty amazing. I also read that San Francisco had legalizing prostitution on the ballot. Didn’t pass though. It’s weird the stuff we end up voting on sometimes.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Abbey~
    2008-11-10 07:32:10

    So I thought I’d respond to your worries about proposition 8 (ban on gay marriage). It is appalling to me also that California, which I had tremendous faith in for shooting down this proposition, is now going to prevent gay couples from marrying. It’s so scary that there are still people out there that believe it is ok to make their unjust, discrimination laws and take away fundamental rights from people, and try to call them “morals”. It’s ridiculous to me. I don’t understand how people are still doing these things after all we’ve seen in the past with taking away the rights of black americans and also women for quite some time. The fact that we as a country are going through this scarily-similar process is completely horrifying.

    Just thought I’d give my two cents. I really enjoyed reading your article!
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-10 11:11:59

    It’s unfortunate that these battles still have to be fought. On the plus side, it’s not over. We’re still out there fighting. I went to rallies at the California Capitol all last week, including a very well put-together one yesterday with more than 3,000 other people. If anything, Proposition 8 finally mobilized the gay community in a way that we haven’t seen before. I just hope the momentum doesn’t decrease.

    For so long the gay community here has felt safe and complacent, expecting that time and the courts would do what is right, but now they see that even in California they have to get up and fight if they want equal rights here. It’s not just about gay marriage anymore. It’s about adoption rights. It’s about equal rights in the workplace. It’s about not being afraid to come out. It’s about letting go of the shame that the other 52 percent of the state has put on them. I was devastated by the outcome of Prop. 8, but I’m excited to see the community come together and speak out. It’s exciting to see.

    And don’t forget, women still have to fight nearly every election season for their rights too. I don’t think I’ve seen one election season pass me by without some proposed law trying to deny women rights to abortion, birth control or the like. And we’ve been fighting for more than 100 years. I guess that’s just how it goes when you live in a culture with a huge religious majority.
    Reply to this comment

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