California's Passage of Proposition 8 Spurs the Need for Change
The passage of Proposition 8 (the Anti-Gay Marriage initiative) has been met with much protest, some anger and finally a commitment to making the civil rights of gays as important and immutable as the rights of all Americans. To understand how profound and how inevitable that commitment is read through Andrew Sullivan's series of posts from all over the nation (start here and step back through the day). So many of the protests had strong support of their communities, with many straights joining with their brothers and sisters to say it is time for America to recognize that the right to marriage and a stable, loving family is something all Americans have whether gay or straight. Many reports from the red states reported about the strong support the protesters got from those passing by. Today, with so many people willing to be publicly gay, it is so much harder to make gays the enemy or the symbol of evil (although the Religious Right continues to use the specter of homosexuality as a sign of evil.) Once again the young are leading way as they are so much more comfortable with gays because they know, respect and love their aunts and their uncles, their sisters and their brothers and their friends who are gay.
Andrew's quote of the day puts the issue before the nation quite succinctly.
"The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs," - Hannah Arendt, Dissent, 1959.
In California, the action to overturn Proposition 8 has two prongs: do much more to help socialize the public on why this issue is important and why supporting gay marriage demonstrates that a society and culture is healthy and wholesome. As a society when we value and support loving and healthy families, we are all stronger.
The second prong is through the courts and especially in the argument that a simple majority vote cannot remove the civil rights of a minority. In California where it is easier to amend the constitution to remove civil rights than it is to raise taxes, the injustice is overwhelming.
Well, it seems that this aspect is just starting to gain traction. According to Scott Shafer, reporter of the California Report, some other minority groups are signing up with the anti-prop-8 arguments to say that there must be more support before the California Constitution can be amended to remove rights from Californians. (No transcript of the program, but he definitely found the legal footing for overthrowing the election results was growing stronger.) Since the California Supreme Court has already seen that "separate but equal" rulings were not adequate, this argument should have great weight.
Finally, the backlash against the Mormon church continues to be strong. As this Fresno Bee article says, the Mormon Church was the largest contributor to the Yes on Prop 8 because although they are only 2% of the population, Mormons contributed almost 50% of the funds used to pass Proposition 8. A lot of the anger against those who worked to pass Prop8 were the lies that were used to sell this initiative. Almost every report I heard about this initiative started with someone repeating the falsehood that if gays could marry it would force schools to teach homosexuality. And if children are exposed to that, they will be corrupted. It seems to me that children exposed to adults lying about their fellow human beings are learning much worse things.
But they also say Mormon money funded irresponsible ads, like one suggesting young children would be required to learn about homosexuality in schools.
"I don't think the Mormon church stepped outside the boundaries available to any faith community that wants to get organized on values they hold dear," said Lindi Ramsden, a Unitarian minister who organized interfaith opposition to the measure. "The part that saddens me is that money donated by people of faith was used to finance advertising that is as close to blatant lies as you can get."
Nothing made me angrier than to hear these lies because California had had months of gay marriage being legalized and I don't remember a massive change in teaching homosexuality in schools. Other countries have survived supporting gay marriage without destroying their moral fiber.
It is time to stop supporting bigotry against gays and start supporting including them as full citizens into our society. And the religions that are using anti-gay demagoguery in their pulpits need to realize they are out of step with our country's values and our vision of an America that is tolerant, open and inclusive.