Separate But Equal

Proposition 8

This is the actual wording of Proposition 8:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

  • Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
  • Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

On November 4th, this nation took a giant leap of faith and voted to elect the first black president into office. On the same day, California, Florida, and Arizona banned gay marriages in their states, with the passing of California’s Proposition 8 largely seen as the biggest loss of gay rights in the country. Arkansas also passed a measure preventing gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

California has long been viewed as a barometer of the nation’s acceptance of gay marriage. The state will still allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, which have many of the same rights of marriage; however, for many gays and lesbians, a civil union is hardly the same thing as a marriage. It is akin to that old “separate but equal” standard that many minorities used to face before desegregation: You can have this kind of union, and it’s just as good as a marriage. Sure, but not quite.

But even Arizona and Florida will not offer civil unions. To date, thirty states have passed bans on gay marriage. Only Massachusetts and Connecticut remain as states where same-sex marriages are legal.  More than 40 states now have Constitutional bans or laws against same-sex marriages.

The irony of the loss of civil rights for one group of people coupled with the tremendous gains of civil rights by another group of people cannot and should not be ignored. Gays and lesbians are taking the defeat hard, as well they should, just as their black brothers and sisters are rejoicing at finally winning a place at the head of the table.

As Julius Turman, a chairman of the Alice B. Toklas L.G.B.T. Democratic Club, a gay political group, said when he called his mother in tears when Mr. Obama won the presidency: “It is the definition of bittersweet.”  “As an African-American, I rejoiced in the symbolism of yesterday,” Mr. Turman said.  “As a gay man, I thought, ‘How can this be happening?’ only to be crying over the same-sex marriage vote in a different way not much later.” (NYT)

Why does it have to be this way? Why does there always have to be a great divide?

Funding From LDS

Religious organizations that supported Proposition 8 included the Roman Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and especially, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), who publicly supported the proposition and encouraged its membership to donate time and money to helping the initiative pass. The LDS provided about 45 percent of out-of-state contributions (Utah Daily Herald). An estimated $35.8 million was spent to help Proposition 8 pass.

When asked, students of BYU in Utah stated that they believed that their work on helping to pass Proposition 8 was “needed” and “important.” According to one student, “I think it was needed for people like me. I’m not really into politics and I don’t know that much, but to be informed by the leaders of our church I think was needed by us.” (http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com/2008/10/2008-byu-idaho-students-reaction-to.html) 

Reaction From the Community

Following passage of Proposition 8, mass protests took place across the state in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Opponents of Proposition 8 included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with twenty other members of the 53 member California congressional delegation and both of California’s U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Ten of the states largest newspapers editorialized against the proposition, including The San Diego Tribune and The Los Angeles Times.

The Human Heart

All of the facts and statistics above notwithstanding, the really egregious aspect of Proposition 8 is the fact that it exists at all. Why does it matter? Why should you care what other people want to do with their lives? How many of you out there don’t even know that you have gay or lesbian children because your children are too afraid to tell you? What business is it of ours who someone loves? Love is such a scarcity in this world—real love that is. When a person finds love with another person, we should rejoice, not condemn.

What two people share in moments of quiet togetherness, it is theirs and theirs alone. Who are we to intrude and impose upon them our beliefs? Who are we to say what is right and just? Who are we to say who and when they should love? Why is love between a man and a woman, which usually ends in divorce one out of every two times, better? 

When you look upon the face of true love, is it not incredible to behold? Are you not better for having seen it? Do you not find yourself feeling more alive, more vibrant, if only for a moment? Consider yourself lucky to have been included in its circle, no matter who the participants are. Because those who love, always enrich those around them in some way.

At least, that is what I have found to be true, especially of my gay friends who have been denied the basic rights that straight couples have enjoyed for years—the right to own property together, the right to share family insurance policies, the right to be named next of kin, the right to visit in an intensive care room—seemingly mundane rights that we take for granted. That is what Proposition 8 denies. The right to fight over holiday dinners, the right to argue over whose mother is more of a pain, the right to have in-laws: Everyone should have to have those rights if straight people have to suffer them, then so should gay people.

But seriously, those of you who would be so small minded that you cannot look past a person’s sexual orientation are no better than those who could not look past the color of a person’s skin. You have just traded one bigotry for another.

Special Comment by Keith Olbermann

 

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

– Lao Tzu

 

More Later. Peace.

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