Friday, May 29, 2009

My Thoughts About Prop 8

I was devastated by the news that Prop 8 was upheld by the CA Supreme Court. As IT has pointed out, some believe the decision not so incredulous as was believed at first, but still, we have three classes of people: Hets like me that can do what- ever they want inclu- ding marry a dozen times and di- vorce just as many; lgbt couples who are mar- ried (some 18K post March 2008 to midnight November 4, 2008); lgbt couples who cannot now marry.

The law being upheld means that in California, lgbt folks cannot marry but somehow are seen as still having equal rights. To me this is tomfoolery. Marriage isn't a nuance of words. It is a legal contract between two adults. It is a civil action.

Three states allow lgbt marriage; Iowa, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Others are very close to allowing lgbt marriage, and several are strongly on that path. Some 30 states have laws prohibiting it (state DOMA-like bills).

As a het, I cannot possibly under- stand to my core the experi- ence of lgbt folks who want to marry, but cannot, or the terrible fear that engulfed married lgbt couples prior to the California Supreme Court decision. Being the eternal optimist (a survival skill), I just had to believe the Ca Supremes would do what was right even though it was patently evident through the hearing before them, which I watched, that many members of the court bought Ken Starr's bizarre legal thinking which is the saddest part of all given what Starr enunciated: That sure, Californians can take away rights through the initiative process via an amendment to the California constitution. Apparently, the court didn't buy that the removal of civil liberties deserves the higher bar of legislative action to do so via a different instrument, a constitutional "revision".

In effect, about 41% of registered California voters exercised their tyrannical right to dispose of marriage equality of a smaller minority. It was a ghastly and shameful day.

The core of this issue is the understanding about secular rights versus theological opposition. One can choose to follow their faith personally, and I have absolutely NO problem with that. But in terms of our laws, we have no business imposing our religious beliefs on others who may or may not be of our individual religion, sect or denomination, let alone a person of faith to begin with.

The protests held on Tues- day should have been much larger than they were. This is NOT about lgbt issues alone. It is about the integrity of our constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment.

At the protest I attended, they asked the hets among the crowd that were supporting their lgbt brothers and sisters to raise their hands. There was a small smattering of us. Rather than feeling proud, it made me ashamed of those that really don't give one small damn about civil liberties or the framework of this country.

While the talking heads on TV blather over Newt Gingrich and his religious views and those likewise of Lou Dobbs, there is little basic discussion of what this precedent means: That through a curtly-worded legal initiative petition, we can rescind the rights of any group of people. Thus my signature line on dKos: Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

My signature line is serious. We could limit marriage to only Baptists or, perhaps, the fastest growing church, Latter Day Saints. We could take away the right of single or lgbt adults to adopt or foster children. We could take away the right of apartment dwellers to own a dog. We could limit attendance at public schools to only white people (gee, that would be novel) and emergency room service to only those with insurance. We could fully outlaw divorce.

And each time, those unaffected could register to vote, and in turn exercise their tyrannical rights.

Ask yourself where this could stop.

As well, since the decision, I have worried over what the courts would deem more important than civil liberties which would require a constitutional revision instead of amendment via initiative. I can't think of a single thing short of California removing itself from the United States and taking our star and funds with us and that is just a guess.

So where ARE the people that believe so strongly in civil liberties such as members of the Libertarian party? Or is this just about what you can do with your land and limiting taxes?

And where was the democratic majority? Where were my friends and neighbors that voted in my precinct distinctly in opposition to Prop 8 (we had the highest no vote of any precinct in the county)? Are civil liberties by the masses so assumed that until a right of the majority is taken away no one will give a damn?

And where was my priest and those priests of other Episcopal churches in the county? Where were the friends/family of lgbt singles or couples or married couples? Is my county so conservative that we only relish our rights in the privacy of our own homes never to be seen (God forbid!) in public, marching with a sign and white ribbon pinned to our lapels?

The only thing I can lay at the feet of those that can't manage to get their fannies out to protect their friends, family, neighbors and the Constitution itself is that Americans are lazy. Indeed, that will be our undoing. Democracy, like relationships, require work.

If we are not willing to do the work then we will continue to get what we deserve: some cockeyed form of democracy and a discounted version of civil liberties as handed to us on Tuesday.

That may be acceptable to some, but it is not acceptable to this native Californian.