When Politics Gets Personal

I’ve been thinking about the passing of Proposition 8 a lot lately and what bothers me most about it is that it is fundamentally unacceptable. I believe I have finally understood why it bothers me so much and it is much the same with the issue of abortion. And I say this because it has nothing to do with whether anyone believes that being gay is acceptable nor what your personal opinion of abortion is. The similarity between these two issues is that these are basic human rights that we are not being afforded.

Let me be clear, I am not saying, “Yay, let’s all go get abortions”. I mean really, who says that? or even thinks that? Personally, I don’t know if I could have one if I were ever to get pregnant but let’s leave hypotheticals out of this. So what do I believe? I believe that women should have a right to choose. Yes, yes I do. I believe we should give women enough credit that they should be able to make this choice for whatever reason may be behind this. It is scientific fact that having an abortion is not easy, women experience a whole host of side-effects. In reality the whole thing sucks a lot, even having to make that decision sucks a lot. Can you imagine being a teenager and trying to deal with the consequences of having a child? Can you imagine being a woman who has been trying to get pregnant for years but is told that it’s your life or the child’s life? Can you imagine being a woman who has been raped and not only that but now has to go through a series of tests to find out if she is ok, if she has stds and if she is pregnant and if so wants an abortion? Those are not easy decisions to make. This is not something that they should be persecuted for.

This whole Christian right campaign about being pro-life is actually completely unfounded and ridiculous because if you were actually pro-life then should we be abolishing the death penalty. Not to mention thinking about health care for those babies that you so generously saved. And what about health care for their parents so that they can still have parents to take care of them while they’re growing up. Or even social security for the elderly so that they may not starve to death because they were too poor and too old and too weak to fend for themselves. And how about those food stamps and welfare for those families that are too poor to take care of those children that you so wonderfully saved from the jaws of death. What about making sure that there is appropriate housing for all these people whose lives we clearly care about saving. Clearly those do not qualify as being pro-life. Really this campaign isn’t about being pro-life, it’s about being anti-choice but let’s face it pro-life sounds a whole lot better than anti-choice. And I will say that whoever came up with that verbiage was a genius.

Now if we look at the issue of gay marriage, I want to know exactly how this threatens your heterosexual marriage? Is there somewhere that states, “oh if we let the gays marry then our marriage means nothing anymore!”? I would imagine that the divorce rate is actually more of a threat to the institution of marriage than actually allowing two people that want to spend the rest of their lives together to be married. What I think some people seem to be confusing the issue with is, is it ok to be gay? Well I’m sorry it’s not your legal right to tell me whether it is or is not ok to be gay. Remember, marriage is a legal institution what your house of worship chooses to do about the gay issue is not in question here.

Recently a friend sent me a note on his thoughts about Proposition 8 being passed and I am thankful to have many friends who have the same socially liberal views that I do. The thing that he said that really brought the point home was when he compared it to segregated education. It was not so long ago that our schools were still segregated. It was not so long ago that people believed that the education system should be segregated. But there was one man, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who stood up to all those people and took the initiative to turn it all around. Now LBJ was originally just a school teacher from East Texas and I’ll be the first admit (being a Texas native) that Texas is not always a particularly progressive place. But he was still able to realize that we should not allow such discrimination in our school systems. The questions around this issue run parallel to those with gay marriage – Does having black students affect the ability of the white students to learn from their teachers? Does it hinder the education system to allow people of various colors to be in that system?

Regardless of your belief, whether you believe all men are created equal or not, is it your place to judge and put it into the legal system of this country? America was created to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is not brave to disallow people who are different from you to exist happily, it is cowardice. It is not freedom to have unequal rights for particular groups of people.

As my friend said to me, “Should we not abide by and promote the idea that this nation was founded on one fundamental idea, freedom and liberty for all. Let’s not prevent other law abiding citizens from enjoying the same freedoms and liberties that we so freely enjoy, and let us all progress once again and truly be Americans.”

A Bitter-sweet Victory

When the election results first came in I was absolutely elated. The Democrats have successfully managed to gain a majority in the House and Senate and we even got the presidency to boot! This has not happened since the beginning of Clinton’s first term and it only lasted for his first two years in office, so I tend to not count that. Before Clinton the last time we had Congress and the White House with a Democratic majority was when JFK was in office. Clearly there has been a major shift to the right and the people have finally decided enough is enough. At the end of the day I do believe that Americans, as a whole, are rather centrist in their beliefs and it was about time we started moving back towards the middle.

I say this is a bitter-sweet victory because while I am elated that the Dems have swept Washington, I am also severely disappointed in the passing of Proposition 8 in California. I find it hard to believe that in California of all places they could pass such legislature to modify their own constitution. Especially considering all of the anti-discrimination legislature that is already in place in California I find it disturbing that they don’t see this in the same light. Ah well, I hope that my friend, Matt, is correct when he says there are many things that pass in California that cannot be put in place because there are too many checks against stupid laws actually passing.

Ah well it was a nearly perfect election, I suppose you can’t always get everything you want. I’ll settle for a hopeful Presidency and Congress!

The Importance of California’s Proposition 8

To be honest I hadn’t really been paying too much attention to Proposition 8 in California, I guess I just viewed it as just another one of those votes that irritates me. But after reading this article in the New York Times and as a member of the queer community I feel that it is not just my right but my responsibility to speak out on this matter.

Proposition 8 matters.
It matters because it is an issue about human rights.
Civil liberties.
In fact what it is mostly about is discrimination.

Before you stop reading, hear me out.

This is not about what you believe in as a church. This is not about what your religion dictates. This is about legalities. This proposition is allowing a blending of church and state. It is about denying two people that love each other the right to visit the other one in the hospital should one of them fall ill. It is about not allowing two committed people the right to adopt a child because it would be better to have that child jump through several different dysfunctional foster homes. It is about the legal institution of marriage not the religious one. I don’t care what your religion dictates. Feel free not to have gay marriages at your church, synagogue, mosque, temple or what have you. That is your right in following with your religious beliefs. But a legal marriage license is simply a partnership between two people that affects their taxes, their property, their bank accounts, visitation rights and all other legal matters. What happens outside of the realm of the legal system really is not a concern.

What I find unacceptable is not allowing two committed people who intend to spend the rest of their lives together the right to do so legally. It is perfectly ok to allow Britney Spears to have a 24-hour marriage because she married a man yet gay couples that have spent 10, 20, 30 or any number of years together are denied that right. How is that acceptable to this society? How is it acceptable in a society that touts “liberty and justice for all”? That is not justice.

Also, I find it fascinating that many liberals are suddenly conservative when we talk about gay marriage just because of that one little word marriage. But you know what I’m not willing to budge, when you speak in legalities you apply for a license to get married not to have a civil union. If you want to oppose the term marriage then it must not hold legally for anyone. It is perfectly acceptable if everyone, regardless of whether they are marrying someone of the opposite sex or someone of the same sex, is applying for a license for a civil union. That way it would still be the same rights and the word marriage is no longer in contention. But until that can change the simple fact is that in order to be equal and fair, the equivalent would be to allow gay marriage. Creating new laws to separate the two institutions legally allows for discrimination and therefore is not acceptable, hence the need for gay “marriage”.

In fact this sort of discrimination reeks of the same sort that existed when interracial marriages were not allowed. Is this truly any different?

Again, this is not a matter of religion, it is a matter of legalities. And until we can offer all people equal rights this will be a problem for this country and, in my opinion, for the world.

In the immortal words of Catie Curtis:
Some day we’ll all be free
I can feel it, it’s our destiny
Some day, I believe
Love will make an honest world for me

I hope Californians will choose to keep that refrain true.