Friday, November 21, 2008

Prop 8: The Ugly Stain on a Historic Election

The day after Barack Obama and the Americans that elected him made history came word that California’s Proposition 8, which sought to ban the gay marriage act that passed just this summer, won by a narrow margin of the popular vote.

That this Proposition even made it to the ballot was already absurd; technically this was an amendment to a law that had passed only months ago. At this point any change should have gone through the State Legislature and not a popular vote.

What hurt even more was discovering the high percentage of those who voted in favor of Prop 8 were African Americans, Latinos and Asians, many of whom probably were very happy to vote Obama in.

To me this is beyond absurd; it’s reprehensible. It’s no secret that most minority groups in America who are quick to point out the injustices their groups endure are also quick to discriminate against their own people of color and homosexuals. I’ve often wondered if this is a sick irony or is it just human nature to treat someone else like shit in order to feel good about oneself.

Since this Proposition was funded in large part by Mormon groups and supported by other churches and conservative backers, many of the minorities who explain their stance use their religion as the reason for passing Prop 8. Religion? Really? Is that really what would Jesus do? Or any other god for that matter? Let’s just call it what it really is—pure unadulterated bullshit.

There is no excuse that begins to justify limiting another citizen’s rights in this country. There is even less excuse if you belong to any group that has been discriminated against. How the hell can someone who has experienced racism or prejudice turn around and vote for any law that does the same to another group? No matter how you spin it, it’s despicable.

The gay civil rights movement will continue to move forward and so will the issue of gay marriage. As a flaming heterosexual I’ve got as much right to vote on a gay marriage proposition as does the government in making laws about what a woman should do with her reproductive rights. Who are we to decide on legislation that we would never have to live with?

If there is one good thing that does come from all this madness, it’s the revelation that prejudice and discrimination is hardly a problem isolated to white America. And good timing too, because if we are to embrace the United America that President-Elect Obama calls for in the years to come, then we must realize this will never happen so long as we continue to dehumanize parts of our society for no other reason than ignorance and unfounded fear.

How ironic it is that Martin Luther King’s dream of seeing all races united for a common cause freely elected an African American on the content of his character and not the color of his skin, while turning their back on another King’s dream—that of his wife Coretta Scott King. It was she who picked up the torch after his passing and expanded on his legacy, becoming one of the leading advocates for the gay rights movement. She got a lot of flack for it but she never backed down; famously saying:

"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

So please, let’s get over ourselves and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yes, we can! Si se puede!

Here’s what you can do to help: File a complaint against the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Knights of Columbus, the Mormon and Catholic organizations who used church funds to lobby for political influence and put these anti-gay marriage propositions on the ballots of California, Arizona and Florida.

An organization called Shut Down Hate has made it easy to file these formal complaints with the IRS. The forms are pre-filled; all they need is your contact info and your pick of one or two articles (also listed) you can submit as proof of these churches’ campaign to dictate government policy with their tax-exempt funds. Show your support and go to