Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Proposition 8

Why would anyone truly believe that if two people in love are allowed to marry, the fact that they are a same-sex couple "undermines" the sanctity of marriage? Funny, but my 25-year marriage didn't rock one bit when all those gay couples got married in Massachusetts. Our foundations didn't crumble when Ellen proposed to Portia. We didn't break it off when Melissa and Tammy Lynn stood by each other through Melissa's cancer treatment. To think that what anyone else does threatens what I do is preposterous.

I would love to share with you the story of my relative who is gay, her trials and tribulations, but I'm afraid it would upset family members (though I've shared some of the info in comments on your blogs). I can tell you that I have been a donor to the Human Rights Campaign, that I have many, many friends who are gay, and that on the sexual continuum, I wouldn't place myself 100% on the "straight" side. (C'mon, there are so many beautiful women in the world. I can appreciate all kinds of beauty).

Things have changed, and that isn't easy for a lot of people. I remember in high school that there were many kids who were ostracized, mercilessly bullied, and humiliated just because someone started a rumor that they were gay. True or not, it was awful. Every female gym teacher was supposedly "queer." Girls were afraid to change clothes or shower in the locker room because someone might be scoping them out. I know it can't be easy on those bullies to know that the people they teased are human beings with equal rights, but I'm glad to know that in my lifetime some things are changing.

My son's best friend, whom he has known since they were both in elementary school, is gay. This friend lost some people in his life when he came out, but he didn't lose my son. In fact, my son is secure enough in himself that he will go to gay bars with his friend and feel completely unthreatened. I'm sure he has thought plenty about his own sexuality, but he told me that he just likes girls - that's just the way it is.

In the same vein, his friend just likes boys. That's just the way it is. He has known it for as long as he can remember. We should no more expect him to suddenly turn on his heel and become attracted to women than we could expect my son to turn on his heel and start dating men. We are what we are. We are who we are. I think that this friend, and my relative, should be afforded the same rights that I have with my husband. My relative is no less dedicated to her partner than I am to mine.

Consider that my husband was able to stand by and provide information and make decisions at the hospital when I was incapacitated from a life-threatening bleed and was put into ICU. We took this right for granted. What if my son's friend and his partner were in the same situation? He might be stopped at the door and asked, "Are you immediate family?" Note that "partner" doesn't mean immediate family. His partner might die while waiting for a "real" family member to be contacted for a decision. In many cases, our gay and lesbian friends are estranged from families who want nothing to do with them or who threw them out of the house.

It's about equality, you know? And it's about people being treated fairly. It isn't about dissolving the "institution" of marriage (though do any of us really want to be institutionalized?). It is just about being fair.

Marriage is about a commitment, about rights under law, and about publicly acknowledging your love for another human being. It shouldn't really matter what race, nationality, or sex that person is. Remember, up until 1967 we still had 16 states that had laws banning interracial marriage. Think about it. How many wonderful couples do you know who are of different races or ethnicities? My brother is married to an Asian woman (who is wonderful), but in the late 60s, my best friend's sister was ostracized for marrying a man from Korea. The whole church was up in arms. Would you even consider discriminating against those couples you call friends? Then why discriminate against same-sex couples who are in love and want to build a home and raise a family?

Who was the biggest force behind the vote to ban gay marriage in California last week? Not native Californians bent on rolling back the privileges of their fellow citizens. It was a church - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I find that highly offensive. They bussed church members from Utah to California to work for Proposition 8. I'm with the crowd that thinks they should have their non-profit status revoked if they're going to get that involved in politics. When churches begin to tell us what to think and how to vote, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

So what now? What do all those couples do who were once allowed to be a married couple and are now being told their marriage isn't permitted? Melissa Etheridge has had a novel idea. She is refusing to pay state taxes. If she's not a "full citizen," she says, then she shouldn't have to pay taxes, either. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but she's a tough cookie. I predict she'll go to jail for this in protest of the state's law. It is going to take people like her and sacrifices like that to get this Proposition repealed.

Regardless of your sexual orientation and regardless of your stand on the issue, I hope this post makes you think about the reality of what is facing the 10+% of Americans who just want to live the same dream the rest of us take for granted. I hope it makes you take notice of the legislation that is being drafted or adopted in your state. Think about your fellow humans and extend the olive branch. You don't have to live their lives, just imagine yourself in their shoes.

Peace - D


Hilary said...

Beautifully expressed, as your posts always are, but I suspect you're preaching to the choir. I hope things evolve and progress over time as they've begun to here in Canada. Hopefully at least by the time our grandchildren are around, such discrimination will be a foreign concept to them.

jay said...

I'm stunned that California passed that one. Absolutely stunned.

You're right - why should these people be discriminated against? Marriage is about love and commitment. I can understand churches refusing to marry same-sex couples (that's for their own belief to sort out) but they should most certainly be allowed a civil ceremony resulting in full and equal rights. Your point about hospital visiting is excellent, and then there are wills (or lack of them) rights to take over tenancies, rights regarding any children ...

I like the stand that Melissa is taking. Quite right - if she doesn't have full rights, is she really a full citizen? If that doesn't hang together, I'd like it explained, because it sure smacks of discrimination and of pigeon-holing them as 'second class'.

Moannie said...

This is a dificult one, and there will be a lot of people thinking 'if I don't agree they'll think I am a bigoted ignoramous'Not being religious I have no right to comment on what the church should or should not do, for me there are few shades of grey in my hatred of Organised Religion- methnks they should clean up their own stables before they deign to tell people how to live their lives...but I do believe that gay couples should have the same Civic rights as any, so called straight couples.
What I resent, and don't think I am alone is when the more flambouyant demand the right to parade their sexuality, even so far as to legalize 'cottaging'.
If heteros demanded the same rights, to have sex in public parks, there would be a furious barrage of 'letters to the editor'
It is a good post,and this is not a tirade against it.

Mental P Mama said...

One big step backwards. I am so glad I live in Connecticut, where tolerance seem to rule.

Daryl said...

What a timely and eloquent post ... I hope your relative gets his/her rights in full ...

What a whacko world it is when people who love one another are not 'permitted' by law to legally commit to one another ...


Cloudia said...

A wonderfully well expressed expression of an evolved human being! Thank you!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Amen, Sista! Amen. I don't understand it, either. It upsets me greatly that two of my dearest friends, Tommy and Patrick, can't get married to one another. It's a tragedy.

RiverPoet said...

Hilary - You're probably right, as my regular readers tend to be very kind, open-minded folks. But with Proposition 8 as the title, I'm hoping more people who are searching for that keyword will find me and will tell me their thoughts. I'd love to hear both sides.

Jay - As Melissa pointed out in her statement, the state of California will miss out on a half-million dollars a year. Imagine if all the gay celebrities in CA and then all the folks in San Francisco (a huge gay mecca, of course) did the same. That kind of pressure may make more of a difference than the whole of the Mormon church!

Moannie - Thanks so much for your comment. I whole-heartedly agree with you about the public sex thing. I DO NOT agree that ANYONE should be allowed to do that. I mean really. It's just common decency to not subject others to whatever we all choose to do in our bedrooms. Ick!

MPM - Too bad it's so doggone cold up there! :-) We've talked about moving further north, but my legs aren't really great in cold weather.

Daryl - Truer words were never spoken. ((applause!!))

Cloudia - Thank you, my friend. I would certainly like to think I'm evolved. (But some don't believe in evolution! heh!)

CMGD - How true. I think if people love one another and want to take that step, who are we to legislate that?

Peace - D

Not Afraid to Use It said...

What is even more irritating is the fact that "Christians" talk about the "sanctity" of marriage and following the "spirit" of marriage in the "eyes of God", but they have no problem if an atheist gets married. What the fuck, you know? I could go on and on.

SandyCarlson said...

Beautifully written. I do wonder why anti gay people are so into their cause. What do they accomplish? Seems like Hatred disguised as Political Causel.

Employee No. 3699 said...

OMG, I just had a conversation with my cousin the other night, who is Morman. His beliefs astound me. His stand is that he actually believes that if gays were allowed to marry, then they could adopt...then they would make their children gay.

He also believes that people can have a propensity to be an addict and can choose not to be, thus a propensity to be gay and choose not to be.

All I can say is WTF?!?

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Everyone's equal regardless of sex. It's about time people were treated with equal respect.

CJ xx

Jo said...

I was shocked when I heard what had happened in California. It's an issue that shouldn't even be on the table.

Here in Canada everyone has the right to get married - gay or not. We also have universal health care, with the best health care facilities in the world, and people have the right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

These are all things that folks in America should be able to take for granted as well. Maybe one day soon....

Akelamalu said...

Hear, Hear!

Ruth D~ said...

I'm in one of the two states that allows gay marriage. I don't even see the concern. We are what we are, more alike than different . . . and who cares about sexual orientation?

RiverPoet said...

NATUI - Wow, that's a new insight I'd never thought of! Indeed they don't seem to have a problem with people of other faiths marrying, and it's just silly to think that anyone's marriage lessens another's.

SandyC - True. As in my newer post, I'm confronting a lot of hatred these days. It's really bothering me.

3699 - That's rather ridiculous isn't it, considering that most gay people were raised by heterosexuals.

CJ - Hear, hear!

Josie - Oh I hope so. I hope we someday can take all those things for granted. We are sometimes a ridiculous, Puritan nation.

Akela - Thanks for adding your voice to those on the sane side of things.

Ruth - How true! And I hope that soon many other states follow. It's just the right thing to do.

Peace - D

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Wonderful post riverpoet!
I say well done for Melissa Etheridge! I hope she gets something changed there...
If 2 people are in love, regardless of their sex, why shouldn't they have the same rights as a heterosexual couple? why should it be a crime to be in love just because people are of the same sex?
Me and my partner have been very happily and very faithfully together for 13 years - 13 years what we call a marriage. But as it's not recognised as such neither of us have any rights whatsoever...
For instance here in Brazil if say, God forbid, my partner were to die, within 2 days his family would be here to clean the house of everything that isn't registered in my name or proven by receipts to be mine (who keeps receipts?!), the car would be taken too, and I would probably be left homeless and with no rights whatsoever...
don't we also qualify to be treated equally? which is why I am hoping that some law could be passed to recognise our "marriage" - we're not the type who even feel that we need a piece of paper to say this as we know that we have already been married for 13 years in our eyes, but the fact is that that piece of paper would afford us the rights that we deserve, as human beings and not as gay men... but in the meantime we are both writing up wills to have some kind of protection against anything that could happen.
Hugs! x

RiverPoet said...

Brit - 13 years is nothing to sneeze at, darlin'. I commend you for having the courage to be who you are and to be with the person you love, regardless of what the laws of the land say. We can only break down the barriers by continuing to challenge them. Sooner or later the wall will begin to crumble. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Peace - D