Speaking of Women's Rights: After the Finish Line

Friday, November 9, 2012

After the Finish Line

by Amy Shebeck

After the election, is anyone else experiencing a little cognitive dissonance?  As in, everything seeming the same…but feeling different?

We woke up on Wednesday in a country that has chosen women to fill 20% of its Senate seats.   We elected hundreds of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual candidates to state and national office, including the first openly lesbian Senator and the first openly gay person of color elected to the House of RepresentativesNine of our states have now legalized marriage for all couples, including Washington, where the success of our grassroots movement for marriage equality was confirmed yesterday.  We have also elected our first Asian American woman Senator, our first combat-wounded veteran woman Representative, and, in New Hampshire, our first openly transgender state representative.

Incidentally, this country was brought to you by an electorate of which an unprecedented 28% were people of color.

As of Wednesday, we also live in a country that has defined itself anew by what it refuses to become. In my home state of Minnesota, this meant being the first state to reject an amendment to its constitution that would have banned same sex marriage.  In other states, it meant soundly defeating politicians who attempted to define and legitimize taxonomies of rape. And in Washington and Colorado, it meant making brave first steps toward eliminating failed drug policies that disproportionately affect people of color, harm women and destroy communities.

On Wednesday and the days following, you might have found yourself scouring the news for proof of the existence of this new America.  You might have been trying to find out more about what this country of yours—one you believed in, but perhaps were cautious about imagining as an actual reality—is really going to be like. 

What do you do once you cross the finish line of November 6th, 2012, where everything is the same, but different? Of course, you keep on running.  The country is different, but the race is still the same.

Amy Shebeck is a third year law student at the University of Washington and former Legal Voice intern.