Sunday, November 09, 2008

Proposition Hate

"Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand.
Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand."
- Neal Peart

In the aftermath of the election I expressed pride that our nation had significantly evolved with Barack Obama's presidential victory. However, some results of the same election suggests that we're not as far along as we thought.

The most egregious example of this is the passing of Proposition 8 in California. For those of you unaware of this proposition, Prop 8 officially amends the state Constitution to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman. This effectively bars homosexuals and lesbians from getting married in California.

Even the ballot title signals just how wrong this proposition is: ""Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." Any constitutional amendment that includes "eliminates right of" in its title raises a red flag that any American should beware of. The problem is, too many people put blinders on when it involves denying or taking away rights of people other than themselves. Especially when those "others" belong to a group that they hate and/or fear.

The primary rationale given for the "necessity" of Prop 8 is that gay marriage poses a threat to traditional (code for "straight") marriage. Well, I've lived long enough to know than whatever wounds dealt to the institution of heterosexual marriage have been self-inflicted. High divorce rates, infidelity, greed, domestic abuse. None of these were caused by gay people wanting to get married.

How galling is it to homosexuals to read over and over again examples like Britney Spears' quickie marriage to Jason Alexander (not the one from "Seinfeld") or an intoxicated and barely coherent Dennis Rodman marrying Carmen Electra, both "traditional marriages" being entered into and dissolved with little thought? Or what about the reality show "Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire?" with Rick Rockwell and Darva Conyer? On top of that gay people have to hear how they can't be allowed to marry because it would threaten sanctity of marriage. The hypocrisy is staggering!

Don't get me wrong. For all the cases where we heteros get it wrong in marriage, there are vast amounts of times where we get it right. Gays and lesbians deserve this same opportunity to succeed or fail.

At one time when I was younger, I might have suggested what many in the middle offer as a solution now. "Just give it a different name than 'marriage' ", they say. Like "civil union", for example. But that represents an example of the "separate but equal" doctrine, and we know how poor a solution that has proven in the past.

The most distressing aspect is that this amendment not only denies gay people marriage rights, but takes away rights that had already been granted over 6 months ago. That's right, defeat of Prop 8 would not have led to a radical revision of California's educational system. Defeat of Prop 8 would have simply meant upholding the status quo. NOTHING WOULD HAVE CHANGED. Proponents of Prop 8 falsely claimed that
gay marriage rights would have opened the door for gay rights groups to impose a "homosexual agenda" on Californians' children and schools. But they've had gay marriage rights for 6+ months and nothing changed. What the hell were they waiting for?

Anti-gay groups constantly accuse the gay community of wanting to impose an agenda on everyone, but from where I sit, THEY are the ones who are constantly seeking to impose THEIR agenda. It's a classic case of projection.

Fans of this site may have pieced together that I'm a heterosexual man living in Illinois. So it would appear that I don't have much of a dog in this fight. So why should this proposition upset me so much?

Two reasons.

The first is that Prop 8 is a slap in the face of the very principles of equal rights and human decency that our country is supposed to stand for. Why does hatred and fear of gays seem to override those principles for so many people?

The second is a bit more personal. You see, I'm in love with a woman I've been dating for over 2 years. Although I am a few months shy of making it official, she's the woman with whom I wish to spend the rest of my life. It's quite possible I could be married by the end of next year. And, let me tell you, I would be fighting mad if a group of self-righteous zealots with too much free time took away our right to get married. But that is precisely what has just happened to gay people attempting to get married in California. The only thing that separates them and me in this regard is sexual preference. So you can understand if I empathize with their plight and get angry at those who would stand in their way.

Everyone should. It's the least we can do. We're supposed to be human beings, dammit.

By the way, what Melissa did was awesome.


At 6:51 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

California's desire to rule by the power of plebescite (?) is one of the reasons that it is so screwed up. But yes, this most recent ruling is ridiculous and mean-spirited. My feeling however, is that in a few months, the State Supreme Court will rule the rescinding of Gay Marriage as being unconstitutional, and then everyone will be right back where they started...except for having wasted a lot of time and money and goodwill.

At 3:22 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Ah, yes, the judicial branch and the system of checks and balances. I knew they had to be good for something.

At 11:11 PM , Blogger Garnet said...

Not to be difficult, but ... the phrase "eliminates right of" was cooked up not by those who wrote the proposition, but by elderly attorney-general Jerry Brown, in an effort to put his thumb on the scale, right? Also, to be fair, if this were a change in society that you didn't like, would you suggest that a tolerable 6+ month period was strong evidence that it's fine after all? Surely that's not enough time to create the kind of social change the pro-prop 8 people campaigned against, ie. telling kids about same-sex marriage in schools. I could be wrong; I'm a long way from California, and I don't care one way or the other, but if you felt strongly about this maybe the thing to do was post while the campaign was going on, no?

At 2:54 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

You are correct re: Jerry Brown's bias in phrasing the bill. But can you honestly tell me the proposition achieves anything OTHER than what Brown described?

Also, I agree I should have posted this during the election. In fact, I had started this entry the Sunday before the election and had intended to finish and post it by Monday evening. But some family events combined with tight deadlines at work and some good old-fashioned writers' block kept that from happening. And before November I, like many people, had figured Prop 8 had no chance of passing until the various groups started pouring a crapload of money into false ads.

At 2:57 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Also: Welcome, Garnet!

At 9:13 PM , Blogger Garnet said...

Honestly, a new proposition aimed at overturning this one would have an excellent chance at passing, and would thereby give same-sex marriage the democratic imprimatur that it enjoys in relatively few places. (I think it's Belgium, South Africa [!] and Spain at this point.) It's a more honorable route than trying to persuade California's top court that the public doesn't actually have any right to decide the matter. The court won't always be on your side, after all.

At 4:37 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

The judicial branch is not some "pesky loophole" in constitutional law; it's a FEATURE. It's designed to protect minority groups (not just racial or ethnic or religious or sexual) from the tyranny of the majority.


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