Saturday, November 08, 2008

Proposition 8

The blame game has started for the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which stripped gays and lesbians of the court given right to marry.

Here are some of the favorites so far:

Blacks

Mormons

Christian Fundies

Indifferent Homosexuals

Catholic and evangelical Hispanics and African-American Baptists stood alongside conservative white evangelicals in arguing for "traditional" marriage. Exit polls showed 70 percent of blacks supported the ban, a far higher percentage than any other race.

The Mormon Church poured tons of money into California, collecting it from all over the country and the world. Gays are wondering how they can keep their tax exempt status while doing that. It is clear, no one wants to challenge them. Thankfully gays and lesbians have been protesting in front of Mormon churches and offices in California and their headquarters in Salt Lake City, demonstrating that we will not just sink into a hole and go away.

The members of this powerful opposition also spearheaded the rise of Barack Obama. Blacks, Hispanics even a lot of evangelicals came out in force for him. Opponents of Proposition 8 were in a no win situation. These people had to vote for Obama to get him in to the White House, but they in turn voted to ban gay marriage. Obama himself has not the courage to say gay marriage is ok, even though the church he belonged to, the United Church of Christ, has come out in support of full marriage equality.

Compounding the issue, there were, I am sure, thousands of gays and lesbians who stayed away from the polls, feeling their vote does not count or that marriage is not all that big a deal. They miss the point and thus their passive-aggressive behavior makes them as guilty as those who actively campaigned to take away the joy and privilege of marriage for those who do feel it is a big deal.

I do have to unleash a little invective at African-Americans. I remember the 1993 March on Washington and the millions of gays and lesbians who marched for equal rights. I heard then NAACP President Benjamin Chavis speak to the crowd: "We are with you... we are with you!!" I guess no longer. I have sadly seen more hate and opposition towards gays from black people and organizations than I have from almost any other. Sadly, gay and lesbians frequently marched with Dr King and others, often at great risk, feeling civil rights for blacks was really civil rights for all. No wonder many gays and lesbians feel betrayed.

But there is hope. 61% of younger voters, under 30, voted against Proposition 8, regardless of their race. Opposition was actually strongest among voters under 24. The older the voter, the more likely he or she was to have supported the amendment. Younger people are tending not to be as influenced by conservative, fundamentalist churches or politicians. They have gay and lesbian friends, they are accepting. They simply do not feel it is fair to take away the rights of others. To them marriage is not the holy grail that the right makes it to be.

One gay couple said in the aftermath, "we are still going to get married, with our friends and family, but without God and our country."

Sadly Mormons, Blacks and Hispanics are continuing the age old trend; the oppressed soon become the oppressor.

2 comments:

zaine_ridling said...

Completely agree. It is unnerving that Florida, Arizona, and California will allow gays to get married... just not to each other! How f-ed up is that?

While every black face I see on my TeeVee is crying and jubilant and "finally proud" of their country, they need to be slapped upside the head and reminded that SEPARATE BUT EQUAL IS NOT EQUAL. And even if it were, civil unions are simply not equal to marriage. Check the IRS code in any situation and you'll see how unfair this denial is.

That blacks cannot see how the same laws that oppressed them are now used to oppress gays is disturbing. Blacks did not reach their civil rights' goals alone, nor should gays have to reach theirs without the help of blacks, who should plainly be able to identify with Prop 8-like struggles.

Gays aren't asking for the blessing of others' gods, or to force churches to alter their doctrine or come to their weddings. With a few denominational exceptions, Christianity is doctrinal homophobia. Heteros have long known that marriage is an economic unit, subject to contract law, which brings some direct legal benefits regarding property. (Ask anyone who's suffered through a divorce if you think marriage is not about economics and property.)

I proudly did not vote for Obama. I don't consider the man very smart, not the least eloquent, and although he loves to hear himself talk, his ascent reminds me so much of G.W. Bush's. I can't point to a single accomplishment except that he had written two autobiographies before he was 40 years old, which is megalomaniacal in the least. Worse, his supporters will be deeply disappointed when he only gives just enough lip service to gay rights in order to gain votes, much like the GOP has teased quadrennial abortion bans in front of evangelicals. If Obama really wants to be transformative, to go beyond Will Smith and Oprah's crying and fainting and ongoing promotion, then this is the issue he can tackle right off the bat.

In other words, if gays want to gain the right to marry, they need to directly pressure the one guy who currently has the clout to put it into law ASAP -- Obama himself. This issue will let his supporters know where he stands and whether he has to guts for a fight. He could easily bring the Congress along during his first two years, and why not? It's a very small (legal) step to go from institutionalizing civil unions across the land to gay marriage, or put simply, the right to marry whomever you want, not whom the government allows you.

Here's a nice site for starters where people can share their stories:
http://gaydadsusa.typepad.com/our_voices_for_marriage/

___________
As usual Don, thank you to tolerating my rants!

Don said...

My pleasure as always Zaine!