Having an election around the corner brings out the colors of our society in various ways. In our neighborhood, those colors show through yard signs stuck in front yards. The McCain/Palin Obama/Biden ratio in our neighborhood is actually pretty even. There are a smattering of signs for local elections which I’m not informed enough to form an opinion on. But, perhaps not surprisingly but disappointing nonetheless, most of the people who have gone out of their way to put a sign in their yard are focused on the referendum regarding gay marriage rights in California. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to decide what side you are on when the ballot measure itself is titled “Eliminate Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” They are certainly not mincing words. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned previous referendums and other legislation that specifically defined marriage as between a man and a woman, declaring that such definitions were unconstitutional. Since June of this year, same sex couples have had the right to marry in California. Now the opponents of that right are working to eliminate that right. Again.
Voting ‘Yes’ on Proposition 8 is to support the idea that same-sex couples do not deserve the right to be married, and will threaten even their rights to domestic partnerships. Voting ‘No’ upholds the idea of equality for all. And while to me the choice seems easy and obvious, my heart hurts to see that many of my neighbors don’t see it that way. A walk through my neighborhood will show you that Proposition 8 is higher in priority to many people than local, state or federal elections. And most of my neighbors who have found the time to put up a sign plan to vote ‘Yes’ and take a step backwards. Not only does this make me feel sad for the state of affairs in our society, it makes me question my place in this kind of community.
I feel afraid that people put priority on eliminating the rights of others based, I assume, generally on religiously influenced moral beliefs. Separation of church and state anyone? I hate the hypocrisy of conservatives who believe that government should play no role in our private lives (they want to be able to buy guns without background checks, no?) but want a constitutional amendment to restrict the private lives of others. I have to shake my head when I listen to propaganda (ahem…I mean commercials) that suggests that gay marriage is somehow desecrating the great institution of heterosexual marriage. Last time I checked, emotional and physical abuse, adultery and divorce were widespread in marriage as it stands now. These same commercials make sure to tell California voters that should this proposal be defeated and gay marriage be allowed to exist, gay marriage will be taught in school. What does that even mean? Remind me again of when we had a unit on marriage of any kind? All the ethnocentric, nationalist bullshit currently taught in school takes up most of the time, I don’t see a unit on ‘My Two Mommies’ as a real threat to the joke of an educational system we are currently operating.
My entire personal belief system does not revolve around gay marriage, or any other individual issue. But the underlying idea marital equality represents is a pillar of who I am. To think that someone could tell me that I couldn’t marry Dave because it wasn’t in accordance with their beliefs is insanity. To realize that Dave and I had the right to commit our relationship through marriage simply because we are from opposite genders is absurd. I do not believe in restricting the rights of others based on fear, ignorance or religious tradition. I do not believe heterosexuals, whites, men, the rich or Americans have the exclusive rights to righteousness. I can’t believe that someone who would vote ‘Yes on 8’ would have much to offer me as a friend, despite the fact that I do respect their right to advertise their beliefs on their lawn. I will continue, mostly because of hard core Midwestern conditioning, to greet my neighbors when I see them out, to wave as I drive past them at the mailboxes. I hope, with all sincerity, that I can be as tolerant to them as I want them to be to others. But if, by chance, the Real Boy were to drop a load on a lawn holding one of the ‘Yes on 8’ signs, I might find myself without a bag that day.