Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Proposition 8: Reaction to the Reaction

This was originally going to be a comment on my own post below, but it just got to be too long.

First, thanks to Brittney Gilbert, who linked to this post (I now know who Gary was referring too).

Second, thanks to all of those who contributed below. Your thoughts are always welcome on here, no matter how much I agree or disagree.

Some final thoughts.

1.It probably is unfair to target only Mormons, as there were several groups, religious and otherwise, who supported prop 8.

That said, I do think it is fair to hold them to account for supporting it (and any other group). The church leadership entered into the fray knowingly, and mobilized their followers both in and out of California (There are A LOT of pro-pro 8 donations from Utah. A LOT. You can look it up) to support this legislation. Holding the church accountable for taking a position on a political issue is not "discrimination." I would also argue that the organizational hierarchy of the Mormon church really does not have equal in any other religion, so that its position is unique. I mean, as much as the Catholic Bishops also supported Prop 8, my gay catholic coworker did not follow in lockstep.

2. I am myself not a member of the gay community (I live with my beautiful girlfriend), so I do not pretend to speak for them. I am nevertheless an opponent of prejudice and I thus consider the passage of Prop 8 a defeat.

3. Many of you have found a religion in which you find strength and truth. That's great. I fully support organized religion. What I do not like, however, is when the church (temple/synagogue/whathaveyou)1) imposes its values on people who do not share their values 2) through the laws of the state.

You and your chruch always could keep your definition of "marriage," as backwards as I think it is. Prop 8 had nothing to do with forcing your faith to accept same-sex marriages. It had to do with the state. And under the laws of the state, specifically the Equal Protection clause of the CA constitution, this definitively is a civil rights issue, whether you care to frame it that way or not because it involves extending a privilege of the state to some, but denying it to others based solely on their sexual orientation.

This is not just about the voters passing an initiative anymore than Brown v. Board of Education was just about the drawing of school districts. This is about the state discriminating based on sexual orientation.

4. Domestic Partnerships were a big step forward, no question, but they are not the equivalent of marriage. The Supreme Court noted 9 differences in its opinion last spring. Moreover, it requires a completely different (and more taxing) process than regular marriage. "Separate but kind-of-mostly equivalent" should not pass muster under our secular state constitution when it is based only on prejudice against a historically (and currently, apparently) ostracized group.

5. I find it interesting that nobody has tried to defend the ads that the Yes campaign put out there. And this was what my original post was supposed to be about. I always knew the religious and social conservatives were going to vote for this. What I didn't appreciate though, is that the ads were trying to spark Pavlovian knee-jerk reactions among those who were undecided based on hyperbolic exaggerations with no basis in law or fact. No church was going to lose its tax exempt status, and same-sex marriage was not going to be "taught" in schools (I still don't know what that means) anymore than regular marriage is "taught" in schools now (maybe I was just absent that day).

If anything, however, the passage of Prop 8, has sparked something. I will no longer be only a passive participant in this struggle. I will no longer just put up stickers, give $ to a campaign, and write on a blog that no one reads. I hereby vow to take an active role in getting the H8 out of our constitution, one way or another.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Reflections on an Election, or "Woohoo!!! dot dot dot Oh Crap, Are You Serious?"

I thought this would be the perfect week. Obama would be elected president, Prop 8 would fail, and Cal would pull a stunning upset and beat USC. Mixed results so far.

Watching Obama's speech on Tuesday night made me cry a little bit. I was at a party with a few friends, but coincidently mostly a bunch of strangers. And as the television told us that Obama was our future president, we all looked around in disbelief. Not because we didn't want to believe, as we were all Obama supporters, but because most of us couldn't remember the last time that we had been excited about a presidential election result. I think our brains could not longer connect the "win presidential election" and "happy" neurons because of disuse.

Could this really be happening? Was this real? There wasn't some last minute ad or strange twist of the electoral college that would take the victory away? No? Holy Crap. Hope.

And then the news about prop 8 hit. That took the wind out of my sails.

I am deeply saddened by you, California. I really can't believe that you would vote to affirmatively discriminate against a class of people. Shame on all of you.

But you know what? I don't really think you meant it as an affront to the gay community. I think those Mormon ads for yes on 8 probably scared you. I think you were afraid. And I understand that. I'm mostly upset about the Yes campaign for making you afraid for no good reason. Prop 8 had nothing to do with teaching your kid to kiss another kid of the same gender, or whether or not a church would lose its tax exempt status (they seemed to back off of this one after the first ad). It just didn't.

And it was a very strange dichotomy. Watching the ticker go by on the bottom of the TV screen stating that Prop 8 had passed while above the talking heads of the major networks waxed about how the election of the first African American president was a culmination of a long civil rights struggle was just strange.

For those of us who are part or supporters of the gay community, or just against discrimination generally, the war is not over. Legal challenges have been filed, but more importantly, we were REALLY close to defeating this thing.

Think about it. Until Lawrence v. Texas, it was ok for a state to criminalize homosexual activity. And now here we are talking about legalizing same sex marriage. Things are changing, and they are changing quickly. Not quickly enough for my tastes, but the tide is coming in. We are almost there.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dear Californians: a final plea against prop 8

I would like to take a moment, and ask you to reflect on why you love California, and why you live here. For me, it's the weather, amazing coastline, great people, crazy characters, majestic mountains, and world-class eateries, in no particular order.

And it is also because there really is no one "California." We aren't like other states. We never have been.

We are a motley crue of wily loony liberals here in San Francisco, and posh conservative label whores in orange county. We are shepherds and ranchers in the eastern sierra, farmers in the central valley, and deadlocked hippies up in the lost coast. We are bankers, lawyers, n'er do wells, authors, actors, and food critics.

And yet somehow we all get along. It's as if, by being born here, you have signed a tacit agreement of "live and let live." Because, if we didn't have that, we would have collapsed a long time ago in a war between surfers, hikers, dirt bike enthusiasts, and snowboarders. If anything, it is our diversity that has kept us strong. Whether it's the shipyards and movie business in southern california, the technology in the Silicon Valley, or whatever it is we do here in San Francisco, we have all taken turns and continue to contribute to what would be the 9th largest economy in the world.

And we lead the nation in trying new shit out, whether it be environmental standards, school vouchers, or ideas of good governance.

So, fellow Californians, I ask of you, is there anything less "Californian" than writing in prejudice to our constitution? Regardless of how you feel about the GLBT community in general, or even same sex marriage in particular, do you really want our constitution to single out a historically discriminated group and specifically deny them the right to sanctify their relationship before the state (not the church, mind you) so that they can just be together like any couple wants to be together?

Think about it. I don't think you do.