Gay Marriage: What Can Our Society Possibly Gain From California’s Revising/Amending Their State Constitution Via the Passage of Proposition 8?
I didn’t catch Keith Olbermann Countdown show this past Monday, when he delivered a rousing and eloquent six-minute editorial on California voters’ decision to pass Proposition 8 – the amendment to their state constitution, which would ban same sex, or gay marriage . Frankly, I wish I had.
Have You, Like Me, Been Struggling Since Election Day, Trying to Figure Out Just What California Voters Were Thinking?
As Baby Boomers, after all, you helped birth the women’s rights movement, the civil rights movement, and the fight for migrant rights. You’ve helped save trees and forests, whales and wolves. Why stop now?
- Personally, since California Governor Schwarzenegger’s comments, I have been wondering just where this clear issue of denied rights is going next…
- Having been raised a Christian (actually very proper Episcopalian, thank you very much) I can’t believe God wants us to remove basic human rights from anyone! That would be against the very basic core of religious philosophy!
- If you think about it, same-sex marriage is really an equal protection issue. That is, as a Baby Boomer – someone who realizes good health can be very transient – don’t you want all of your fellow humans to have the same rights to transfer property, visit loved ones in the hospital, and be present in times of trauma and trouble – even in death?
Olbermann’s video clip has been widely posted online.
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to view it. If not, take the time to watch it via the link provided above. Keith speaks quite passionately from a philosophical and sociological point of view, and what he says makes sense.
It seems that when we look back to the foundations this country was built upon, bedrock concepts like Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal…” we took two steps forward with the election of Obama, our first African-American president, and then about 20 steps back with the passage of this law, whose intent is to rescind the right of same-sex couples to marry.
As Olbermann notes, this decision “tilted the balance on this issue from coast to coast.”
I Don’t Have A Personal Axe to Grind: Like Olbermann, I’m Not Gay. But Realistically, This Is An Issue That Touches Us All.
- Thankfully, I’ve been happily married to my second husband for over 20 years, and have personally enjoyed the wonderful experience of parenthood for three decades now.
- But this issue still touches me, as it touches us all. As you do, I have family members and good friends who are gay, and perhaps it’s through my participation in their lives and stories that I have developed my strong opinions on this subject
- Don’t be so naive as to think you don’t know any gay people: While statistics vary, we can agree that somewhere between one in ten and one in 20 people currently identifies themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In other words: of every twenty people you know, at least one was not born heterosexual.
- You, I – and everyone you know – have gay friends and/or family members – or at least work with someone – who was not born heterosexual.
- If you think you don’t know anyone who’s not heterosexual, understand this is statistically unlikely. Instead, it’s much more probable that within the social world you live in, people are still forced to closet their sexual orientation in order to get along in this world. You know, as in “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Here’s a Part of Olbermann’s Commentary:
This is about the… human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not… understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want — a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Only now you are saying to them — no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights — even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?
I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage.
If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal… in 1967. 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry…black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are… gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing — centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children… All because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?
What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.
It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.
And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?
With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness — this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness — share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The Impact Goes Beyond California – It Is Massive
- Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re talking about rescinding people’s rights that has caused so many people to speak out, realizing that this is not just a California issue, it’s a nationwide issue
- Or maybe it’s because the November election also saw bans on gay marriage pass in Florida and Arizona, while Arkansas stopped gay couples from adopting children
- Currently, gay marriage is legal in two U.S. states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, where court-approved same-sex weddings began earlier this month.
- But dozens of states have laws that limit marriage to a man and a woman, which brings forward another issue: whether a gay couple who marry legally in one state will have this marriage recognized in another
Here’s A Summary For Your Consideration:
- “Marriage” is a religious sacrament, and has no place being defined by the state
- All “marriages” should be legally defined as “civil unions,” which can be defined by the state
- If we still support the concepts on which our country was founded, “civil unions” between same-sex couples MUST be allowed in every US state
What Can You Do?
Speak up. Stop the insanity. Demonstrate your Baby Boomer pride in supporting civil rights actions. There are a number of ways you can participate:
- Visit the website, Join the Impact, to keep up on the latest details of this effort. This blog site calls for coordinated action across the United States, beginning with marches planned for the weekend of November 15th. Since Amy Balliett, 26, used her lunch break to start this site a few days after the election, more than 1 million people have visited and dozens of marches and meetings are now planned for Saturday 11/15, 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT).
- Send your local media copies of the press release created by Marriage Equality USA. For a copy of it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make an online donation to fight Proposition 8
- Join the Facebook group >”1,000,000 Million Strong Against Newly Passed Prop 8.” At the time of this writing, it had about 68,000 members. Join Facebook if you haven’t already and sign up. The group’s creators identify themselves as high school students. Would you let high school students, who learned about civil rights from the actions of Baby Boomers like you try to carry this cause alone?
Want To Know More?
Many great books have been written addressing the issues related to gay marriage. All will help you better understand the issues and resolve your feelings toward this issue, no matter whether you are gay or straight.
Among them is one I’m really looking forward to reading: Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law, by Nancy D. Polikoff, which is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
Polikoff asserts that, in American law, marriage is the dividing line between those relationships that matter and those that don’t.
For example, with regard to inheritance, a woman married to a man for nine months receives Social Security benefits when he dies; while a woman living for nineteen years with a man or woman to whom she isn’t married receives no government support.
Among the crucial topics this books covers are:
- Tax consequences
- Workers’ compensation death benefits
- Social security
- Health care
- Plus, their impact the diversity of today’s family units
Polikoff knows her stuff. She writes this book after having taught, litigated and written about family law, civil procedure and sexuality for more than 30 years. From that perspective, she reframes the family-rights debate by arguing that marriage should not bestow special legal privileges upon couples because people, both heterosexual and LGBT, live in a variety of relationships—including:
- Unmarried couples of any sexual orientation (remember, the co-ho concept works well for single Boomers)
- Single-parent households
- Extended biological family units, and
- Myriad other familial configurations
These relationships, she argues, like marriage, are about building and sustaining economic and emotional interdependence and nurturing the next generation.
Sounds like a “must read,” for all Boomers, don’t you agree?