It’s a simple matter of justice
This week a number of people have been up in arms over California’s prop 8. Honestly, I have always been a fan of democracy but even too much of a GOOD thing can be bad. California proves that again and again. Fourteen years ago they passed another proposition that was all about discrimination. Prop 187 denied education, any social services and a host of other things to immigrants and their children. (FYI the only federal aid they can receive money from the Women, Infants and Children or WIC fund.) Most of it was struck down as being unconstitutional as the Supreme Court had already ruled schools cannot get funding should they deny immigrants’ children, who are legal citizens, an education. The real problem was that it spawned similar referendums in other states. It’s so easy to find a group to vilify. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposition_187
Now it seems that one group we all feel we can oppose, legally anyway, is gays and lesbians. I live in an East Coast city where people don’t generally want to be considered homophobic but the undercurrent of homophobia runs through the capitol. Some papers tried to ‘out’ Members of Congress by publishing ‘the list.’ ‘The list’ was a list of gay staffers on the Hill. The point was to show the hypocrisy displayed by politicians who claim to oppose homosexuality at home but then support it in Washington, DC. No, it was not as scary a period as the McCarthy hearing days but people on the Hill were running around wondering will my name be on the list? Sounds ‘Orwellian,’ doesn’t it? At the end of the day, the way our society treats those we view as not being ‘normal’ is draconian.
My position on the issue of gay marriage has evolved over the years. Growing up in San Francisco (partially anyway) may have had something to it. If you find love, you are lucky. If you happen to find it with someone of the same gender, who cares? I thought we were supposed to revere love and marriage? I was always taught that marriage promotes stability in communities. It is supposed to be a good thing.
Having said that, while I got in trouble with some for – and I swear on all I hold holy – being ‘too open minded’ in college (one year two women moved into my dorm suite and let me tell you the fur flew for months when we found one woman was openly bi and the other was a lesbian) the idea of gay marriage never meant much to me. Being straight, it wasn’t something that impacted me directly so I just didn’t think about it. Then I attended an event that changed everything.
My parents lived in Washington, DC and a few friends came to town to go to the annual Pride march. The funny part of this story comes first. We had another friend visiting from San Francisco, also for the march. The catch about him is he always walks around naked. The first time I met him he was naked and I was much more embarrassed than him, he didn’t care at all. In any case, a caravan of women arrive at my mom’s house, most are lesbians who probably had not need a naked man in a long time, and that’s when our friend answered my mom’s door in the nude. What I would not give to see the looks on my friends’ faces.
But that’s just a funny anecdote. The important thing happened later. There was a mass wedding held in front of the Department of Justice. I never understood the significance of getting up in front of the world – your family, friends and God (if you believe in one) and telling someone that you love them and want to spend the rest of your life loving them. Moreover, the government treats married couples differently. It’s not just the tax code or health benefits. You become part of a unit.
My personal belief is that your sexual orientation is something you are born with, like your eye or hair color. You can try to change it but you will get roots later. I also wonder what threat gay marriage poses to straight marriage. I have asked people who oppose gay marriage (and adoption) what it is they oppose, are they secretly gay? Does the gay lifestyle (and I don’t actually think there is one ‘gay lifestyle’ anymore than there is one ‘straight lifestyle’) so appealing that should gay marriage be allowed everywhere that straight couples all over America will decide (in my head it is always in unison) Oh, my God! I can legally marry someone of the same gender as me! I am outta here! Is straight marriage such a fragile institution that we have to limit it this way? (Actually it might be very fragile, seeing as the American divorce rate I think tops 50 percent, making me think we should make it harder for straight people to marry.) How are straight people hurt by gay marriage?
Prop 8 was a real disappointment because most of the nation thinks people out there are more progressive. They are not but that’s what people think (Reagan was from CA as was Nixon). I am glad people are protesting. I am happy Steve Young’s (Mormon and descendent of Bingham Young) Bay Area home had signs opposing prop 8. Oh, FYI, there was a time when we owned slaves (well not me, I am a woman, women were also property), African-Americans & women could not vote and children were allowed to work. Gay marriage (and adoption) will become legal. It’s not a matter of when or if, it’s a simple question of justice.