Obama’s victory last night was literally one of the most amazing events of my thirty-five-year lifetime; I sat there with Shannon, among a group of close friends and new friends, and soaked in the history of the moment. (Annabelle, alas, was asleep upstairs, totally oblivious to the raucous cheering, singing, and joy just ten feet below her.) As a friend said to me this morning, our generation hasn’t yet had a leader this inspirational — Barack Obama motivated more than 135 million Americans to get out of their homes and vote, and as of this moment, 52 percent of them declared that an African-American with a message of hope is the best choice to lead the nation. I’ve been smiling at random strangers all morning, noticed heads held high and spirits soaring everywhere I’ve been, and couldn’t be prouder to be an American.

All that being said, I’m also a bit disappointed in a few results from yesterday’s voting, each of which stands a bit in contrast to the monumental achievement of President-Elect Barack Obama.

First, Don Young (definitely) and Ted Stevens (probably) are returning to Washington, DC to represent the Great State of Alaska as its Congressman and Senator. Don Young has been Alaska’s sole Congressman since before I was born, and is almost certainly going to be tried and convicted of taking bribes; he’s also the one that faces Justice Department investigation for violating the Constitution by changing the text of a bill after it had passed Congress but before it reached the President’s desk for signing. Ted Stevens is a convicted felon, the fifth sitting Senator to ever be convicted of charges, and is almost certainly going to be evicted from Congress. If these are the people that Alaskans feel are their best representatives to the federal government, then perhaps Sarah Palin really isn’t out of the norm up there… and the state is being openly mocked by the lower 49 this morning.

Second, it looks like California’s Proposition 8, amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage, is going to pass — this, in addition to Florida and Arizona also voting for similar amendments to their state constitutions — is a reminder that while Obama’s shattering of a racial divide is notable, it’s all the more so because of the persistence of other divides that are equally shameful. For people to cast their votes to deny a class of fellow citizens the right to enter into legal relationships with the people they love is as abhorrent as it would be to tell those same people they can only love those of their same race, something that was certainly prevalent a few generations ago but now is obviously and mockingly bigoted and wrong. I can only hope that we continue our inexorable march towards greater tolerance, and we can wipe this period out of existence in the next generation.

Finally, in a similar move, Arkansas citizens approved a ban on adoptions by unmarried couples, in an end-run attempt to remove yet another privilege from gay couples by grouping them into the less-offensive category of people who live together but don’t have a certificate of marriage to validate their relationship. For some reason, these voters really feel that the nine thousand-plus Arkansas children in foster care are better served there or in group homes than with loving families; that’s just as bigoted and wrong as banning gay marriage, but it carries with it a real harm to the least-fortunate youth of Arkansas. What a shameful statement to be making.