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.