Anirvan Chatterjee: November 2008 Archives

Obama won. I’m cynical about how quickly he’ll have to start making major compromises on his stated positions to govern, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. What lies ahead is a test of our ability to hold him accountable, and create a political climate favorable to our policies of choice. The battle begins today.

No matter how ineffective he might turn out to be, there’s inherent value in having the White House occupied by a constitutional law professor, a center-left moderate, a biracial person of color, someone who can speak and be respected around the world. There was a street party that erupted in our neighborhood when Obama won, with music and dancing in the streets.

But California Proposition 8 won by a 4.4% margin. 5.2 million Californians were willing to walk into the voting booth, and choose to amend the California constitution to strip their LGBT neighbors of the right to get married. We failed to reach enough people, and it depresses the hell out of me. There’s so much more long-term organizing to be done, to help convince Californians that boring committed monogamous same-sex marriage isn’t going to cause straight marriages to go down the tubes, or convince impressionable children to start picking out their gay wedding registries.

Marriage equality advocates lost by 427,821 votes statewide. But there were over 852,000 “yes on prop 8” votes in the relatively non-homophobic San Francisco Bay Area counties alone. Forget conservative parts of the state; just winnowing down the Bay Area votes could have played a major role in the defeat of Prop 8. It’s easy to point fingers elsewhere, while forgetting how much homophobia there is in our neighborhoods:

San Francisco
Bay Area County
Yes on 8 votesYes on 8 %
Alameda County167,09538.0%
Contra Costa County163,05945.1%
Marin County28,51825.3%
Napa County19,24844.9%
San Francisco County54,32123.5%
San Mateo County79,54137.6%
Santa Clara County216,63044.4%
Solano County58,05556.0%
Sonoma County65,89833.9%
Bay Area total852,36539.0%
Statewide margin427,8214.4%
(County results via SFGate @ 9:40AM; latest state numbers from

I had a fascinating conversation with an older Asian American man while phonebanking against prop 8. When I explained who I was and why I was calling, he was shocked beyond belief, telling me “you are the devil,” and that if prop 8 were to fail, “you will be a homosexual.” (I suggested he tell that to my wife.) He went on to ask me if I’d heard how a second grade teacher had told a second grader it was OK to marry a boy, and asked me how I’d feel if my son married a boy. Perhaps to his disappointment, I had to admit that if I had a son that was born gay, I would probably want him to get married. I usually try to deescalate religious fury by talking about civil rights, but this guy was unstoppable. Thankfully, not everyone was like that. And we only need to sway a few percent more to help restore this basic civil right for all.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been phonebanking for Barack Obama, and against California Proposition 8 (which, if passed, would kill same-sex marriage).

Calling hundreds of households around the country is interesting. Now I understand where all those “while I was in ___, I met ___, who ___” candidate stories come from.

While phonebanking, I talked to a woman in Oakland whose brother would be joining the military the next day and wanted to be able to vote for Obama. I passed her off to a senior organizer, who explained what they could do if her brother’s absentee ballot didn’t arrive in time.

I spoke to a man who worked three jobs. He apologized when I called, saying he was too tired and busy to follow politics.

I had a long conversation with an Indian-American family in suburban Orange County that was against Proposition 8. When I asked, they explained their support for same-sex marriage in the context of equal rights for all. Everyone should be able to get married, they told me.

It’s 6:00pm on election night, and I’m hopeful that Barack Obama will win the election, and worried that LGBT Californians may have their civil rights rescinded. I’m anxious, waiting for good news.


Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Anirvan Chatterjee in November 2008.

Anirvan Chatterjee: October 2008 is the previous archive.

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