Prop 8 And What It Means To Me, To Us

A day after history was made, I find myself thinking a little more seriously about things. One of those serious subjects is what happened in California yesterday and why it’s important to me and why I’m sorry I did not do enough to try and stop it.

The voters of California passed Proposition 8 yesterday which puts into the state constitution an amendment barring gay marriage and nullifying those marriages that have taken place. Gay couples can still get civil unions which some might argue gives them the same things as marriage but that is besides the point.

Marriage is a civil contract no matter what the religious believe. One can be married by merely getting a license but one cannot be married in a church without the license. One makes is a legal necessity, the other a ceremony. The elevation of marriage to the level of religion itself is a ploy by the religious right and their right wing fellow travellers in their neverending culture war against everythng they dislike. Civil or human rights mean nothing to these folks because to them, these rights are only for the righteous (i.e. Them). Any harm they cause, no matter what form it takes, is mitigated by their knowledge that they are holy warriors doing His work.

I don’t often think in terms of kinship but that’s the way I feel about gay people and their connection with my own alternative lifestyle. My desires are part of who I am. I don’t have to act upon them but that is a different thing than being able to erase them altogether – the former is possible though difficult and the latter is utterly impossible. When gay people are denied a right that other people enjoy, it harms me as well. This denial harms every American.

There are laws on the books right now which quite possibly make what I do in the privacy of my own home a crime. No matter that it’s consensual, these laws say I should not do these things. If gay people can be denied their sexual freedom by intollerant people then so can I and I will not allow that to happen.

What is there to do? For me it begins with educating myself on all the issues regarding sexual freedom. A quick Google or wikipedia search is a good start. Join, contribute, help, educate and push for laws that don’t categorize my desires as criminal. California and other states with laws like the one described by Prop 8 need to be pushed towards equality for all people.

The cynical bigots of California think they can turn back the clock but history and time only move in one direction no matter the obstacles in the way.


17 Responses to “Prop 8 And What It Means To Me, To Us”

  1. Such a sad day in California

  2. Not for the bigots, haters and ignorant boobs.

  3. The worrisome part, Rad … at least here in Florida where we had Ammendment 2 … is that the bigots, haters and boobs are also some of the same people who pulled the lever (so to speak) for Obama and change. The road ahead isn’t going to be nearly as smooth as we’d like.


  4. There’s an old saying: “When we take over we’ve got to get rid of some of us, too”.

  5. These kind of things really upset me on a fundamental level because I truly believe that no matter what my desires are or my lifestyle is, the government has no place in the bedroom. I am surprised and disappointed that Prop 8 did not pass in “liberal” CA, which isn’t nearly as liberal as the media would like to make out.

  6. I think you meant to say that you’re surprised that Prop 8 did pass. There is an interesting challenge coming from the ACLU regarding the constitutionality of this proposition. The question is, if the people of California were voting to take the vote away from women or any other group, would it be allowed?

  7. We should all keep in mind that not everyone who voted for Prop 8 is a bigot, hater, or boob. I suspect that many of them were manipulated by bigots, haters, and boobs, but that doesn’t necessarily make them one.

    I think a lot of people are responding to the fear that the government is interfering with their religious values. Rad addressed this well in the original post: marriage is a civil contract. Churches don’t have to marry anyone they don’t want to marry. So some of the anti-gay marriage response derives from an absurdly exaggerated view of the ways in which the world would change as a result of legalized gay marriage. We can and should fight this misperception.

    IMO, there’s also a visceral, irrational component of plain anti-gay sentiment. Part of the reason that the overlap of groups promoting acceptance of GLBT people and kinky people is smaller than one might think is that an important part of anti-gay sentiment derives from a fear of moving away from traditional gender roles. I’m sure female tops and male bottoms have dealt with this kind of suspicion or hostility in certain quarters of the kinky community.

    I don’t understand this fear at all, but it’s clearly out there. In the same way that many people see the idea of evolution as threatening their relationship with God and the “special” status that being human confers, certain men and women feel that their self-image is under threat by the very idea of same-sex relationships. Familiarity is the only way to overcome that kind of hostility, and it may not work with everyone.

    Views are shifting, even if there’s backlash. To me, the Arkansas decision to outlaw adoption by single people to prevent gays from raising children is the most haunting of Tuesday’s election decisions. In addition to cruelly denying a basic life role to gay and lesbian people, this measure will mean that a lot of children will not receive the family support they need and deserve.

    Nonetheless, I remain hopeful. Perhaps a comparison to racial views is relevant. If I look at the living members of four generations in my own family, there’s a huge difference in attitudes and life experiences regarding race. My grandmother apparently threw a fearful fit when Obama won the election. (Thank you, President-Elect Obama for understanding that we love our racist grandmothers anyway). My parents attended segregated school in the south but were very supportive of the civil rights movement. My siblings and I are very grateful that we didn’t have to grow up in that kind of world. And my brother’s children will grow up thinking there’s nothing in the least bit unusual about having an African-American president.

    Maybe our children or grandchildren will be able to say the same thing about having a gay president. I hope so.

    Until then, let’s keep fighting intolerance and supporting the struggle for gay rights, including but not limited to gay marriage.

  8. Thank you, Indy. That was very well put.

  9. As a Californian, I am/was emotionally invested in the defeat of Proposition 8, but Indy is correct I think in saying that the Arkansas referendum is much more troubling.

    I have tried to write reasonably about this Prop 8 issue on my own blog so many times – I try at least once a week since September – and it all either ends up bookishly long or emotional. I haven’t managed rational yet, but I need to. Chris said last night that it didn’t matter now, but it does still matter – the fight here is not over.

    There remain so many ways to reverse Proposition 8. There are at least 2 lawsuits planned that challenge the constitutionality of the amendment – in California, we can’t amend our constitution in a way that violates the preceding one and many (including me) feel that Proposition 8 still violates the equal protection clause that was used to invalidate the earlier laws on the subject. Also, there is a move to challenge the entire process of amending the constitutional rights and freedoms of residents based on a simple majority vote. As we know from other civil rights movements, might does not make right. There is also the political option. A look at our votes by county demonstrates that California is widely conservative. There are many, many conservative Democrats across this state who voted yes on Proposition 8. Certainly, the urban areas are/were heavily against the proposition, but our population is heavily diverse, with strong Catholic and Hispanic populations that votes yes on 8 and yes for Obama. Our demographics are not likely to change in coming years but … when the first law was made, 61% of the voters approved it. This time, only 52% voted yes. That’s a significant decrease, and ongoing efforts for education and tolerance will hopefully narrow and reverse that margin. Assuming the proposition process is not changed, it is possible to reverse Proposition 8 by a simple 50% majority.

    Our Attorney General tells us that marriages performed in this state for same-sex partners will remain recognized. That’s almost 20,000 of them. The Proposition language means that the state cannot accept marriages performed in Massachusetts, et al. I’m sure that his announcement will be followed by another lawsuit seeking to nullify these marriages.

    I agree that one of the difficulties we face is a dual definition of marriage. There is marriage – the rite, ritual or sacrament of uniting two lives before God for life. And then there is marriage – the civil union relationship between adults that defines access to health care, legal rights and limitations, inheritance, etc. In that sense, we all have civil unions, and those who married under the auspices of a clergy person have marriages. As such, the pastor at my church will continue to conduct marriage ceremonies for homosexual and heterosexual couples he believes have entered into a committed relationship with each other and God, even if the state does not recognize some of them.

    This is such a difficult issue and there are so many passionate people on both sides. I do not think at all that the people who voted yes are necessarily boobs, haters, etc. and I believe that calling them names will not make them receptive to reasonable or Scriptual debates that may be used to change their minds in the coming years. Expressing our frustration with the passage of Prop 8 is natural but I think we must be careful to not distance ourselves from the Yes on 8 movement because we need the people in that movement to change their minds. And they will only change their minds by being with us, talking with us, and growing with us.


  10. sparkle: Your comments and thoughts on the subject are acknowledged and appreciated.

    Personally speaking, I have little tolerance for people I consider bigoted and I draw little distinction between the perpetrators of hate and those who simply go along with it.

  11. ThisGuy45 Says:

    Watch who you call bigots and boobs. Don’t do a Ralph Nader.

    According to exit polls for The Associated Press:

    “California’s black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, provided key support for a state ban on same-sex marriage.”

    “Exit poll data showed seven in 10 black voters and more than half of Latino voters backed the ballot initiative, while whites and Asians were split.

    Though blacks and Latinos combined make up less than one-third of California’s electorate, their opposition to same-sex marriage appeared to tip the balance. Both groups decisively backed Obama regardless of their position on the initiative.”

  12. Quite honestly, I don’t give a damn about the ethnicity of the people supporting a stupid law.

  13. Indy and sparkle: Thank you. You two have been able to articulate this so much better than I ever could. Rad: Thank you for bringing up the subject.

    I was devastated when the outcome of prop 8 was announced (I remained somehow optimistic during the count, as though some huge transformation would occur before the final counting).

    One thing that struck me: While walking to and from the polling place I saw many “yes on 8” signs in the yards of homes. I stopped to think that the familar “yes on 8 signs” were seen on roadside signs, and pretty much everywhere. However, I recall seeing very few “no on 8” signs anywhere. Why is that?

    I feel embarrassed and deeply ashamed to be a Californian at this point. I don’t recall ever feeling that way before, and hope I never have occasion to again.

    So now I look to find a way to do what I should have done before. Get involved in the process, with more than just a vote. I could kick myself for not doing so sooner.

  14. dawna: I think a lot of people were so focused on the general election that they took their eyes off the ball when it came to Prop 8. The Mormons from Utah (as you probably know) put a lot of money into the state to fund the Yes on 8 effort as did, apparently, the Catholic church.

  15. Easy to blame the hate filled right for their bigotry and their neverending war on everything they dislike. But Obama got the most votes… and he easily could have swung close results in California and Florida the other way had he done the right thing. Instead, he very openly opposed gay/alternative marriage. Bluntly stated so in debates, on his website and during different interviews.

    More than *anyone* else… he is responsible for the votes going the wrong way on these amendments. While the Mormon Church, cynical bigots and so on played a role… fact was, the single largest political figure of this election cycle passed on the chance to present a logical opposing view. Instead, he goose stepped with the far right so he could get his votes. For that… Obama deserves a spanking.

    The time will come though. Younger voters didn’t buy into bigotry at the hands of an over-reaching government… and no doubt we’ll one day have a politician with the backbone needed to stand up and do the right thing.



    “Why voters should not be allowed to create policy”

    I know many of you that read my blog are opposed to gay marriage and many other so called social issues, but I wanted to point out four Propositions in California voted upon during Tuesday’s election and one Amendment in Florida. I am a social liberal and do not think government and religion have any right to dictate social behavior. I am also a fiscal conservative and when you read the below information, keep in mind that in California 10% of the state budget is spent on state prisons and it costs $46,000 a year to house one prisoner. Also note that more California voters voted to ban gay marriage than to provide parents with notification of a minor’s abortion. Even stranger is that far more voters said yes to protecting farm animals than any other proposition. I guess imposing social mandates on those that are different is alright, but it’s not to me.

    Not too long ago in this country interracial marriages were against the law as were interfaith marriages. Maybe you support “one man and one woman” as the standard for marriage but do you support “one white Protestant man and one white Protestant woman” as well? Think about all these amendments and propositions across the country and ask yourself does imposing the opinion of the majority upon the minority really what we all want? What if an amendment passed in your state banning guns, or movies, or chocolate milk or kissing in public? Either all of us have the right to live our private lives as we choose or none of us do. Legislating discrimination and calling it protecting marriage is wrong.

  17. Brian: That was well put and I urge people to click the link and read the comments section of that article as well.

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