A Referendum on Morality Seems Like an Oxymoron to Me

Proposition 8—The Musical

 

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Rainbow Brite

Okay, so I’m not a tremendous Jack Black fan, but I do think the guy is funny. But when I saw his latest role, it almost made Pepsi come out of my nose. I know that the clip has already gone viral, but it’s worth talking about just because of the actors who gave time to participate in it. “Proposition 8—The Musical” is a star-studded video that was written by Marc Shaiman, Tony-award winner of “Hairspray” and directed by Adam Shankman, and the actors play supporters and foes of Prop 8.

John C. Reilly and Allison Janney lead the gay marriage foes, who all happen to be dressed in Sunday best dark clothes. The “gays,” who include Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph, Andy Richter, and Nicole Parker, are dressed in bright colors and look more like hippie protesters. And then Jack Black drops in as Jesus.

Black’s Jesus points out the hypocrisy of picking and choosing certain parts of the Bible to follow, for example the outdated notion of stoning people for their sins. Neil Patrick Harris acts as a type of Greek Chorus for the anti-gays, pointing out the economic advantages to gay marriage: “Every time a gay or lesbian finds love at the parade, there’s money to be made.”

Shaiman said that he felt some guilt over the referendum, which prompted him to act:  “I had just been taught this terrible bitter lesson about being lazy, and it lit a fire under my fat ass.” Subsequently, he wrote the piece in one day, recorded it the next and shot it in a single day in another week. Shaiman’s, in commenting on his mini-musical, declared, “If I’m going to stand on the soap box, at least let me sing and dance.” As Shaiman said on Keith Olbermann, the passage of Proposition 8 was kind of a slap in the face: “Election night, America throws this great party, and the gays [were] left off the list.”  

Truth and Consequences

The video has been called a “viral picket sign.” Personally, I think that it’s one of the boldest and best statements to come out against Proposition 8. Yes, it’s very in your face, as it’s supposed to be, but it’s also funny. The fact that we’re still trying to legislate against gay marriage in this country truly distresses me. Marriage, like many other things, should be a personal, private choice. People do not choose to be gay; they are born that way. To condemn them for something over which they have no choice or control does not seem to me to be either loving or forgiving.

Living is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Who are we to make those circumstances harder for other people simply because they want to live life just like anyone else: a house, a mortgage, life insurance policies, health insurance, maybe some children? I’ve known a lot of straight people who had no business being married. Their relationships were completely dysfunctional. They treated each other like crap, and their children suffered greatly because of it. There is nothing that says a marriage between a man and a woman is going to be perfect or better than a marriage between two women or two men. I know two men who have been together for a very long time and are married in every way except legally. They own property together, make all major decisions together, have friends together, love each other, have arguments just like any other couple. Worry over finances and whose family they will visit over the holidays. What makes their union different, or worse, wrong?

Look them in the face and tell them that their love for each other isn’t good enough. That their life together doesn’t count. That what they have isn’t real. That one of them wouldn’t grieve over the death of the other.  You cannot do it because it simply isn’t true.

The far right fundamentalists have very rigid ideas about the Bible and heaven and hell and right and wrong, and that is certainly their right. That is what this country is based on: religious and individual freedom. Far be it for me to say that they do not have the right to believe in the things in which they believe. The Mormons in Utah who poured so much money into getting Proposition 8 passed in California have the right to believe what they wish to believe as well. But it troubles me that there was a definitive blurring of church and state in this case, especially over state lines in which the LDS from UTAH came into CALIFORNIA and worked fervently for the passage of Prop 8. It seems that there should be some ramifications for the LDS church if they did not set up a separate entity to cover those massive donations.

The Circles of Hell

Essentially, according to basic theology of fundamentalism, just about all of the rest of us are going to hell: Jews, Catholics, Muslims, those who have not been born again, gays, people like me who prefer to keep my beliefs personal and private, and pretty much anyone who hasn’t answered the call to be born again. It’s a big list. On the other hand, for Muslims, all of the infidels will be going to hell. For Catholics, I’m not sure who goes to hell. Methodists and Presbyterians are a little more open about it, I believe.  Buddhists don’t believe in hell. Episcopalians are pretty close to Catholics, so I don’t know how that works, but I think that there’s purgatory in there somewhere. Unsure about Judaism. I know that a lot of the gay community worship at Unitarian Churches, so maybe there are no stipulations about hell. I think with LDS you go to hell if you do something against the prophet, and Quakers, well they’re so peaceful, I’m not sure how they would end up in hell.

I don’t even want to ponder which parts of hell where we’ll all land. It’s much too complicated and sometimes tedious, but Dante’s was very meticulous in creating places for everyone, so trust me when I say that no one should feel left out.

My point is this: why are we so concerned with who is going to hell? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with our own paths? I mean, my path has been pretty rocky. I know that I haven’t been a saint, but neither have I been a great sinner. In living my life, I would think that judgment for others is the last thing that I have time on which to dwell. I’m still acutely aware that my journey is not even remotely over. Like Frost, I “took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

If we’ve learned nothing in the past few months, then perhaps we need to go back a little bit farther in time. For example, let’s take a look at one man who spent 27 years in a prison cell unjustly and never gave up hope, who came out still believing in the goodness of people, in equality for all, and the possibility of change:

“Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in

 which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual.

We must construct that people-centered society of freedom in such a manner

that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.
~
Nelson Mandela

Speech at the opening of the South African parliament, Cape Town 25 May 1994.

 

More later. Peace.

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.