NO on Prop 8: because it’s the right thing to do

This is the fifth in a five-part series on the “California Marriage Protection Act,” Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot. Parts one, two, three, and four appeared earlier in the week.

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In this final post on California’s Proposition 8, I want to urge those of you who are gay, lesbian, transgender, or allies of the same, to do what you can do to assure this measure is defeated in November.

For those who do not know, Proposition 8 seeks to amend the state Constitution by adding a section which would read: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It is an attempt to overturn the May 2008 decision of the state Supreme Court which legalized same-sex marriage.

As I wrote last July, the coalition of groups against same-sex marriage is diverse in it potential reach. Composed of religious and conservative groups, they also reflect some of the broad racial/ethnic diversity of the state of California. As a largely grassroots organization (or, more appropriately, a coalition of grassroots organizations), with exceedingly deep pockets, they have been poised for some time to whip up fear and support among traditionally ignored voting blocs and get them to the polls in November. Among these constituencies are poor and working-class people of color whose sole regular institutional participation ins usually within their local church.

Last summer my fear was that the “No on Prop. 8” movement would not reach out effectively to these groups, leaving them with no other channel of information than the steady stream of fear from intolerant zealots. I continue to have this fear. Poor and working-class immigrants and people of color are often ignored in political campaigns. It is not surprising, therefore, that they also tend to vote in lower numbers. In an ironic twist, the state of the economy and the campaign of Barack Obama are both contributing to a projected increase in these groups’ participation this fall. Where will they fall on Prop. 8 in California?

My hope is that they vote to reject this measure out of a clear recognition that it is the right thing to do.

Those of us from marginalized communities are intimately familiar with the daily kinds of pain (physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual) inflicted upon those who are not regularly considered part of “we the people.” For the immigrant who chooses to come to this country in search of economic survival, this realization is often expected but no less tragic. For them, the thin veil of American’s image of themselves is nothing but that as they are faced with a daily existence marked by regular forms of discrimination and the feeling of being on the invisible margins. But their participation in this society can have a healing effect.

I remember when my grandmother became a citizen of the United States. An immigrant from Mexico who had lived and worked in the U.S. for her entire adult life, the decision to become a citizen after five decades of being a green card holder came, partially, from a recognition that she wanted to have a voice in the political machinations of this country. While it had become “home” to her long ago, the organized anti-immigrant and anti-color campaigns of the Pete Wilson governorship were too reminiscent of earlier times in the state for her to sit by without some (however minor) political role.

I am glad she will be voting against Prop. 8. Though she is a naturalized citizen, though she attends church every week (and sometimes more), she know there is nothing gained in a society marked by discrimination. She know this makes us all weaker in the fight to make this nation live up to its ideals.

In reality, a vote against Prop. 8 is a fairly conservative move. Same-sex marriage rights still uphold the socially-constructed and politically-sanctioned valorization of marriage as a social institution. It doesn’t challenge that fundamental bias, instead opening up more of the population to nurture it. I suspect someday our society will begin to question whether or not civil authorities need to be in the marriage incentive business at all but for now, that is the dominant model.

I say this to highlight the fact that for many, support of same-sex marriage is not stretch, even if they “morally” disagree with being lesbian or gay.  Many people understand the difference between a law that forces a discreet morality on people in a free society versus one that allows for people to choose their own morality.  A classic argument of the civil rights era was that racial integration was being legislated and that it was bound to fail since you can’t force people to not be racist.  Even so, an end to segregation did not compel anyone who was racist to not be.  They didn’t even have to tolerate “mixed” settings.  They could go on in their daily live keeping themselves and their children in a white bubble.  But, over time, by society stopping to valorize this morality of a few on the majority, its contradictions became increasingly clear.  It is time for us to do the same with homophobia.

This week’s worth of post were not meant to convince the fervent supporters of the ban on equal marriage rights. Such a debate is largely impossible to have. But they are not the majority of this state. The majority are fair-minded people who place social and political equality on the level it deserves. They want us to be a healthier, more just, more equitable society. They only need to be reminded, when they are faced with the opportunity to do so, how important it is to take that step.

For more information, click here.

4 thoughts on “NO on Prop 8: because it’s the right thing to do

  1. Marriage is our culture’s ultimate expression of equality–it takes one man and one woman to create a family. Even if a marriage can’t have children or choose not to have children the definition of their relationship expresses this equality.

    One could see a lesbian union as a marginalization of men, or a homosexual union as a marginalization of women.

    Equality is especially important when it comes to raising children. Children deserve/need a father and a mother. Neither parent should be marginalized.

    Yes, many children are already growing up in single-parent homes. Prop 8 should be a reminder to everyone that as a society we need to assist and strengthen families as much as possible. Really, as a society we should be most concerned with the success and health of our families.

  2. Really, I’m disappointed in you. What a fluff piece! You didn’t even attempt an argument in this post. Because it’s the “right” thing to do, hope we get to the ignorant poor folks first, equating information with fear, a “but everyone’s doing it” appeal, and never to disappoint, a false comparison to the civil rights movement of the 60’s. There’s not even a real argument for me to address today. Alas.

    You claim that supporters are not the majority — well, they were when prop 22 passed, and in just a few weeks more we’ll see if your claim holds true. Then again, we could experience the same thing we did in 2000 when no on prop 22 was ahead — people tired of being bullied for their beliefs and opinions, holding their tongues, and voting their hearts.

  3. Proposition 8 is more than same sex marriage its about protecting our sons and daughters from growing up in a world that teaches that being gay or lesbian is just as normal as being straight. I don’t want my sons and daughters being taught as young as five years old in school that it is okay to marry someone of their same sex. It is about the principle of religion. And protecting what God has set up as the correct way to replenish the earth. It is marriage between a Man and a Woman. God set Adam and Eve on earth to have their posterity fill the whole earth. It goes contrary to the laws set up by God himself. I have nothing against gay or lesbian individuals. I believe they can live their life how they please. I am against the teachings that go against the teachings of God. And we must fight to protect God’s holy ordinance of Marriage between one man and one woman.

    Please go to http://www.protectmarriage.com to read more about the benefits of proposition 8.

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