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November 06, 2008

Animal Rights; People Wrongs

On election day, Californians took a giant step away from animal cruelty. Proposition 2 passed, banning three dreadful forms of factory farming confinement. Some 60 percent of those who voted went for it. It could be a harbinger of good things to come in other states (Florida was actually ahead of California on some of this, which is amazing, considering we're not exaclty progressive).

Prop 2 outlaws gestation crates and veal crates, and battery cages for laying hens. Hens also get a break on their living conditions. Starting in 2015,they'll have to have adequate space to spread around and spread their wings (as it is now, they can barely move).

This is all good. But I'm going to veer off my 'beat' here for a moment to say how sadly ironic it is that the same electorate who voted for animals with their hearts voted against some of their fellow citizens at the same time, approving Prop 8, which bans gay marriage.

This is America, where, with the election of a non-white president, we can proudly say we can all aspire to the same goals, with a realistic chance of achieving them. But we persist in denying civil rights to the one last group that it's apparently safe to discriminate against. I say this as a straight person.

Please -- don't tell me about what the Bible says. The USA is governed by the Constitution. It's a secular document - no matter what it says on our money. Our laws are based on that document, which includes an ''equal protection'' clause in the 14th Amendment. It could not be clearer.

While there were all kinds of sound reasons to protect the rights of chickens and calves in California, I have yet to hear a compelling argument about how gay marriage would harm traditional marriage. Indeed, how would it have any impact on it at all, given that half of "traditional'' marriages end in divorce, which seems a lot more damaging to the institution than two people of the same gender signing a piece of paper at city hall.

So while I rejoice for the critters - and for the collective consciousness that rose to protect them - I despair for the hard hearts that insist on penalizing their fellow citizens.

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