Friday, November 14, 2008

Prop 8 and why I’m glad it passed…

I wrote this post about a week ago after a heartrending two hours worth of videos and commentaries concerning the fallout of the passage of Proposition 8 in California. I hesitated to post it because it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the blog, and I’m so hell-bent on keeping things light around here. But this is important. I don’t live in a battleground state and I don’t have the time or the money to travel to one of the national protests, so this is just my way of voicing how I feel about this issue. No matter what side of the argument you are on, it is safe to say that these issues – gay rights, same-sex marriage, civil rights – affect us all, and for me personally, these issues affect me daily in intense emotional ways, so you can’t blame me for hopping on my soapbox every now and then.

You might not read the same blogs I do, but I have followed the Prop 8 story from the beginning. Of all places in the country to do it, some Californians were attempting to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a measure provoked by the state’s Supreme Court ruling which called such a ban unconstitutional six months previously. At first, the proposition was largely ignored; similar initiatives had failed in the past, others had passed but were overturned, and many believed the most liberal state in the union would take no part in discrimination. But with the financial help of the Catholic Church, the Mormons, and other religious organizations/individuals around the country, the proposition began to gather more and more steam. Only when the polls began to show a startling amount of support for the proposition did the opposition fully organize. But it was too late. On Nov. 4, 2008, the same day the country elected its first African-American President, the gay rights movement was flung backwards on its ass. Hard.

The same-sex marriage issue is tricky. It’s a mish-mash of clashes. It’s religion vs. civil rights. It’s tradition vs. progress. It’s church vs. state. This kind of debate divides whole communities of people, from the small family unit all the way up to the national political parties. And with the passing of Prop 8 in California, the argument has finally come to a head.

That’s why I’m glad Prop 8 passed. Don’t get me wrong… I was devastated at first. For the past three election cycles, states have put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot, all of which resulted in bans. I don’t know the number, but for the most part, same-sex marriage is illegal from sea to shining sea. It wasn’t easy to stomach the first time, and watching the citizens of California do it all over again made me ill.

But the outcome has been more than satisfactory.

In the life-cycle of every civil rights movement, there is a moment of stand-off; the moment when the proverbial wall goes up. I believe the passage of Prop 8 is THE WALL. This moment has been a long time in coming for the GLBT community in America. For so many years, gay people have been inching slowly – from tolerance, to acceptance, to understanding – toward the ultimate goal of full and equal treatment under the law. For too long, gay people have accepted the fact that they are second-class citizens, subjected to the tyranny of a bigoted, uneducated, morally self-righteous majority. For too long, gay people haven’t felt safe enough or strong enough to confront their enemies. Well… no more.

The passage of Prop 8 built a wall, indeed, but it also opened a floodgate. That flood WILL force that wall down, and with it, the injustices that have plagued the gay community for decades.

So here’s this Wall. If you aren’t lucky enough to be gay or a religious fundamentalist, you get to make a choice. You’ve been lucky for the past 20 years or so, because aside from the occasional outburst, the discrimination of gay people has been the status quo. But the time is coming when you will have to stand up and announce which side of the wall you are on. It’s a difficult choice – you’ll have to think about all the gay people you have known and maybe loved. You’ll have to think about the years and years you’ve spent listening to preachers/priests demonize the love that can exist between two men or two women. You’ll have to decide what is more important to you – equality or religion. And once you’ve chosen, will you be willing to accept the consequences?

I have no doubt – NONE – that the fallout of Prop 8 will ultimately lead to the federal legalization of same-sex marriage. It might not be next year or ten years from now, but it’s on its way. The gays around this country are organizing, protesting, reaching out to those who continue to misunderstand our lives and stories, and since I have faith in America and everything she represents, I know we will win. That’s why I’m glad Prop 8 passed – it has given the gay rights movement a solid foundation from which to throw an Almighty Tantrum, and we will NEVER shut up about it.


Erin G said...

I stood up at Furman and I'll do it again. I have no shame in saving that I stand on the side of equal rights. for EVERYONE. which is what I mean by EQUAL, obviously. I do not understand why this is so confusing.

Erin G said...

never mind, I do kind of get why it's confusing. It's because the church says one thing and the law (we hope) will say another. but here's the thing: churches don't make laws. well, they shouldn't anyway. and the government has no business in church matters. of which I consider marriage to be one.

let the churches marry who they want, and understand that it will vary from congregation to congregation, and from denomination to denomination, and even from believer to believer. but as far as the government is concerned, ANY couple should have exactly the same rights, legally, that mark and I have. call it a civil union. call it a gobbldeygoop if we need a new safe no-hurt-feelings name for it. I don't care what you call it. but whatever it is, it needs to be EQUAL for everyone. meaning filing a joint tax return, sharing in healthcare benefits, rights to have families and parent children, property rights, everything.


I have chosen my side. :)

Erin G said...

oh! and for anyone out there who is wondering, yes - I love Jesus. And I love gays (like all people). And I believe that Jesus loves gays (like all people).

Crazy, this theology is. :)

Erin G said...

ok, last comment, I promise. I know you just got excited with four comments within the first hour of this post publishing, sorry they're all from me and that's not exciting.

But I just have to say that the whole "if we let the gays marry, then people will want to marry their dogs" thing is about the dumbest excuse I've ever heard. Ever. If THAT is your best reason for denying people equal rights, then.... sheesh. I know people want to "draw the line somewhere" so let's draw it where the founding fathers did: ALL PEOPLE. (not pets or livestock.)

ok, I dealt with the Jesus thing and the dog thing, so I'm done. peace out. love you mean it.

(And the word verification is "persue." Not the same spelling, but the meaning is there, am I right?

Reeva*Dubois said...

Yes Yes Yes and Yes! Ditto and all that!

[gives Erin a big hug]

Chris said...

I was stunned to see Prop 8 pass in CA. I lived there a couple of years ago in Santa Cruz about an hour from San Francisco. The votes were a little different there I'm sure, but I guess the inland parts of the state and Orange County were enough to push it through.

I worry that the fight to make gay marriage legal may end up taking a Supreme Court decision the same way schools were desegregated in Brown vs. Board, and with the current makeup of the Supreme Court, we may have to wait a long time. Personally, I think it's a slam-dunk through the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment, but we have to have a sympathetic court.

Mary said...

Well said, Reeva, all the way around. And I wholly agree with Erin's position. Hubby and I are on the side of equality for all people. Marriage (or some legally safe term) should be legal for two consenting adults, regardless of gender. Hubby says that if marriage is going to be limited to one man/one woman, first we need to create a legal definition of gender. Good luck with that.

I'm willing to throw the Almighty Tantrum with you and the rest of the gay rights movement, Reeva, and Hubby and I have been supporting these rights for years. What's heartening is to look back and see how far we've come and to realize that within a couple of generations, people will no longer put up with the discrimination. All one need do is look at where we've come since blacks got the right to vote and see who has just been elected President. Progress is happening, even though it may seem slow and painful on the day-to-day level.

Take care, Reeva, and don't worry about getting on your soap box once in a while. You're a great writer and you can pull it off.

culturepress said...

So beautifully-written! Thank you for this eloquent and compelling essay.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post. I think you put into words exactly what we gays have been feeling. You have beautifully put exactly what we thinking and what we will now be fighting for. Thanks!

Reeva*Dubois said...

@ Mary: hubby's idea of defining gender--- that is super provocative. I've been thinking about that for a few days. How cool it must be to live with someone currently studying and thinking about the deep stuff! I bet your dining room table is never boring.

@culturepress and @sammy25, thanks for the compliments and thanks for stopping by. Er... ya'll come back now, ya hear? I dunno, seemed appropriate. :-)