Letters to the Portland Editor, November 13, 2009
When the newly formed United States enacted its first Constitution, voting was essentially limited to white land-owning men. This was in keeping with the tradition of the time, which held that public decision-making was a privilege reserved to those with the power to control it. Over time this country realized that tradition in politics was often not consistent with the American dream of freedom for all, and that living up to that dream often meant dispensing with tradition by giving to all citizens those opportunities that are the cornerstones of a free and healthy society. Not creating a “separate but equal” substitute that is rarely equal, but granting the real thing that is important enough to those in power that they are unwilling to do without it themselves.
Most of the people who voted on Question 1 on November 3 were able to do so only because a tradition had been replaced by a more inclusive practice that permitted them to vote. Sadly, large numbers of those who benefited from this more enlightened position used their power to deny others another cornerstone of civil society — marriage — and did so in the name of the need to “preserve tradition.” Their votes may or may not have been driven by hatred or fear, but they were unquestionably acts of hypocrisy and selfishness.
To all those who voted Yes on Question 1 in order to preserve tradition: Do not ever vote again unless you are a white land-owning male.
, Seth Berner, Letters to the Portland editor, Constitution, More