Welcome to KirstieJ.com. I'm Kirstie, I'm 21 years old, and I'm a college student at UCLA majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Spanish Linguistics, excited to travel and work in the social media industry post-graduation.
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  ยปMarry Me, Elections
November 3rd, 2010

I. Love. Elections.

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert on politics. I may be head-over-heels in love with The West Wing, find government and political science classes interesting, and love watching CNN/MSNBC election coverage, but, like many Americans, my “passion” for politics is a biennial occurrence.

Yesterday was Election Day in the U.S., and though midterm elections aren’t quite at the top of everyone’s list of Most Exciting Things Ever, I woke up energized, planned to wear red, white and blue in celebration (before realizing how dorky I’d look), and was eager all day to get through classes so I could cast my votes. And I found myself getting chills while standing in the polling booth. Democracy is cool, y’all.

I got even more emotional yesterday when reminiscing about Election Day 2008. I had supported Obama from the beginning, so his victory was wonderful, even though I was too busy running around campus rallying against Prop 8 to catch the news channels announcing he would be the next President of the United States. I sprinted back to my dorm, turned on the TV, and fell to the floor in relief and excitement. Well played, voters of 2008.

But as big of an Obama supporter as I was at the time, the issue that really stirred me was California’s Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage. A no on Prop 8 meant a yes on gay marriage, and I was fortunate enough to be able to campaign with fellow opponents of Prop 8 on the UCLA campus on Election Day.

I have never been as adamant about a political issue in my life as I was about Prop 8. My personal marriage rights may not have been threatened by it, but never had an issue been so black and white to me. Perhaps we as a society place too much emphasis on marriage, but, as I see it, banning gay marriage implicitly declares homosexuals inferior to heterosexuals. It’s the equivalent of telling a particular race they cannot marry, and who could possibly justify that in this day and age? But I’m probably preaching to the choir here.

Standing at the top of Bruin Walk with a “No on Prop 8” sign and reminding passersby to vote against the proposition was an amazing experience. I was inspired by the countless students who gave us smiles and thumbs-ups, passing cars who honked in approval, and people who thanked us for standing out there. Sure, we were occasionally disappointed by students who proudly declared their support for Prop 8 (against gay marriage), but, overall, it was an empowering and unforgettable experience.

Of course, Prop 8 ended up passing, and this created a forceful wave of emotions in young, naive me. I felt like I had lost my faith in humanity. If even Californians, who are supposedly unusually liberal and open-minded, were this hateful toward a minority group, what did that say about the rest of the world? Over the next few days, I tried to understand where gay marriage opponents were coming from. Arguments between friends broke out in the comments of my LiveJournal posts, and I was infuriated by every celebration of of Prop 8. But I quickly realized that hating Prop 8 advocates was just as close-minded as hating homosexuality. I’m generally very open to hearing both sides of a story, but, like I said, never in my life has an issue been so black and white. For the first time, I just could not understand where my political opponents were coming from. But I made myself take a step back and listen to what they had to say, and I realized that they were not bad people after all. They had their reasons, however much I disagreed with those reasons. Many of them were good, intelligent, compassionate people. I knew this in my head, but it took some time and effort to know it in my heart as well.

The 2008 elections were exciting and monumental for America and the world. I love that they were the first major elections I was old enough to vote in, and I’m proud to have been part of the political process. Prop 8 may have been a major disappointment, but witnessing its passing and confronting my own feelings about it was extremely powerful and educational. I look forward to being similarly moved by political issues in the future.

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