It’s a cold and dreary day in the Bay Area. It’s been raining since I woke up this morning, and probably longer than that. I haven’t washed my new car since I bought it two months ago, because every time I thought about it, the weather reports threatened rain. Of course, even when it did rain, it didn’t rain on my car. I have a garage at home and an in-door parking garage at work and so the rain always held off until the car was in one of those two places. My car was filthy! This morning it poured down rain the entire way to work. Admittedly, that’s only four miles and in some people’s eyes today is a holiday so there wasn’t much traffic. My drive was a short one, but the rain was coming down in sheets and I think my car is probably sparkling clean again!
Today, as most of you know, is the day we commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. and his efforts in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Having been born in 1975 and coming from a northern family, it’s hard for me to conceive of a time when blacks and whites were not considered equal. Separate schools? Different water fountains? Really? That’s preposterous! Laws prohibiting the marriage of a black person to a white person? Surely you jest! “Separate but equal?” There is no such thing and every conservative I ever knew would tell you so. We live in a civilized society where everyone s treated equally and with respect and decency, right?!? The idea that all these things existed, just a few short years before I was born was simply outlandish to me.
Despite growing up in a family which hovered dangerously close to the poverty line (which, by the way is a joke for how low it is) I was privileged. I’m male. I’m white. I have blue eyes. One could even argue that I’m blond (or was before I lost my hair). What advantage could I possibly not have? I mean, really!
Three years ago, I finally accepted something about myself that I really had known all along. And in that moment of acceptance, I took a step into a foreign land. I found myself in a place I could not comprehend. I found myself to be a minority. You see, I was a blond haired, blue eyed, white male, with the world as my oyster (or so “they” would tell you), and every advantage imaginable (except for a fat bank account.) But with that acceptance, I became a blond haired, blue eyed, white, gay male in a world steeped in controversy over whether or not I should be allowed to exist; a world that questions the validity of my natural, God-given preferences and desires; a world that thinks that who and what I am is a choice and not a fact of my life, and therefore, is not worthy of equality; a world that would just as soon send me to a separate school, and have me drink from a separate water fountain and tell me that my rights are equal to theirs, just as long as I keep them separate from theirs.
As a kid, I always thought that some day, many, many years into the future, Marriage between two people, regardless of race or gender, would be no big deal. It would be legal for two people to get married and love each other and have a happy and fulfilling life together without fear or retribution from society. Yes, I was raised to believe that homosexuality was wrong and that those marriages between two people of the same gender would be immoral, but I was also taught the very important concept of separation of church and state and therefore believed that marriage between two people of the same gender should be legal even if it was immoral. (My beliefs about the morality of homosexuality are different now, but that’s not what this post is about.)
I always believed that some day, right here in this country, we would reach a point in our political culture where it would be agreed that legalizing same sex marriage would be the right thing to do. I also always suspected that it would be when I was very old, or even after I had died.
It is not without some sense of irony that I began to accept myself for who I was,right around the time that the mayor of one bustling metropolis decided that it was discrimination not to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and issued an edict to his staff to change that. Soon after, loving, committed same-sex couples from around the country flocked to that mayor’s office applying for marriage licenses and saying their vows before a justice of the peace, finally gaining a sense of acceptance and normalcy that they had longed for.
A few months later, that mayor was ordered to cease and desist issuing same-sex marriage licenses and the marriages that had been performed were deemed invalid.
In May, 2008, six separate appeals were brought before the California Supreme Court protesting the constitutionality of this action which ultimately resulted in the court determining that prohibiting same sex marriage was indeed unconstitutional and ordered that same sex marriages be legalized and licenses issued, not just in the thriving metropolis, but throughout the state.
I was surprised. I was also pleased, because not only had an injustice, that I had seen to be so my entire life, been undone, but it actually mattered to me personally because it affected me personally… or at least it could, someday.
And then the campaign started when a hate mongering group of people put together a petition to add a law, later to be known as Proposition 8, to the November, 2008 ballot. Proposition 8 was intended to add an amendment to the state constitution which would define marriage as existing between one man and one woman and making any other type of union illegal. I became aware of the question early on, but I was complacent and delusional. I saw countless “No on 8” signs, bumper stickers and television commercials, but nary a one “Yes on 8” anything. Everything I had read on-line and in magazines was anti-Prop 8. And the legality of same sex marriages was already in place. I couldn’t believe that in a state like California there was any chance that a bill like Prop 8 stood a chance of passing. I didn’t do a thing beyond casting my own vote against Proposition 8.
I, like the majority of the rest of the country stayed up late, watched and waited for the results. November 4, 2008 was an historic day for all of us and I wanted to know how it would turn out. Who would be our next President? And by how much of a majority would this hateful, horrible Proposition 8 be defeated?
President Obama won, by a landslide… early even! Not really a surprise there, but worth waiting up for all the same. Prop 8, on the other hand, was too close to call and the ballot counting was taking an eternity, it seemed. When I awoke on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, I was shocked and devastated by what I had learned. Moreover, I was pissed!
I wrote this and posted it to my previous blog:
An Open Letter to 52% of the Voters of the State of California
Dear 52% of the Voters of the State of California-
I want to thank you!
I want to thank you for recognizing that I am every bit as much of a human being as you are!
I want to thank you for finally acknowledging that Separation of Church and State means that even if you don’t agree on a moral level that I should be entitled to marry the man of my dreams, you at least realize that yours is a religious perspective and not a political one and therefore decided to grant me my fundamental human rights to marry the man I love.
I want to thank you for recognizing the direction this country is heading, catching up with the rest of the world, and agreeing to consider me equal, deserving of all the same rights as you.
I want to thank you for voting to defeat this hate mongering proposition to take away my rights to marry the man of my dreams, because you realize that whatever your personal opinion of marriage might be, this issue is much bigger than you or me, and therefore you MUST vote to maintain those rights for all Californian’s regardless of sexual orientation.
I want to thank you for all of these things…
Sadly, I can’t.
Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis have probably noticed a glaring absence from my post recently. I can’t answer for the first week of January, other than that I was just back from a trip and had work piled up on my desk, but last week (and possibly the rest of this week) I was very preoccupied with keeping myself informed of the goings on with the federal appeal in the courts now (not today – they view it as a holiday) to consider the prospect of overturning Proposition 8. The defense in this case, the side that wants to continue to withhold my rights, fought very hard to keep the public from knowing what’s happening in the court room. The question of televising the case was shot down. The United States Supreme Court overruled the sitting judge’s intention to record the proceedings and post them on You Tube.
There are many outlets available, I’m sure. I have chosen the Courage Campaign Prop 8 Trial Tracker for my source of information. Rick Jacobs, the founder of the Courage Campaign Institute, has been in the court house overflow room, where the proceedings are being shown to a small group of media, and has been typing his little fingers to the bone to get as much of the information out, up to the minute, as he can and I have been fastidiously following along. See, I decided that this time, I do not want to be a bystander who knew nothing about what was happening until the outcome was announced on the news. This time, I wanted to know the truth. I wanted to know what actually happened in the court room that brought us to the conclusion the judge will reach.
I must tell you, it’s discouraging information. “Our” side is making compelling, rational, logical arguments that would be hard – in my opinion – to refute. The Prop 8 side is making irrational, childish, I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I types of arguments that are short-sighted to say the least and ludicrous in most cases. It’s hard for me to comprehend that anyone could believe the things these guys are spouting and yet, it’s much the same hogwash that is spouted by my family.
I’m reading this coverage and I’m trying to logically process what’s being said and it seems like any logical human being would have to come down on the side of overturning the law. But there’s something inside me… A voice in the back of my head. It’s the voice that I often think I need to learn to pay better attention to because it tends to know things, tends to be pretty accurate… That voice in the back of my head is saying, “Our side is making an excellent case. Prop 8 side is acting like ignorant children. No one in their right mind would side with them… And yet? We are going to lose.”
I hope that voice is wrong, but I doubt it. And the truth is, whether that voice is wrong or not, it won’t end here. Whoever loses this case will take it to the next level of courts to appeal it again and again and again until it can’t go any farther. And there are those who believe that if this question goes to the Supreme Court of the United States and if the SCOTUS rules against “us”, it will be another generation before marriage equality is in place.
Seems that my child hood belief may not be so far from correct after all. I believe this country will have marriage equality some day. But if we want to have it, we will have to fight for it, every step of the way!
There’s a song that came on my iPod the other day and has been in my head ever since. The band is called Muse and the song is called Uprising. I first became aware of it when the chorus was used in the promotional ads for the new TV series V, and the video for the song is nothing short of bizarre. I’m quite sure I’m making the words fit my own cause and really I’m OK with that because they do fit.
This is Uprising:
The paranoia is in bloom, the PR
Transmissions will resume, they’ll try to
Push drugs, keep us all dumb down and hope that
We will never see the truth around, so come on
Another promise, another scene, another
Packaged lie to keep us trapped in greed with all the
Green belts wrapped around our minds and endless
Red tape to keep the truth confined, so come on
They will not force us
And they will stop degrading us
And they will not control us
We will be victorious, so come on
Interchanging mind control, come let the
Revolution take its toll, if you could
Flick a switch and open your third eye, you’d see that
We should never be afraid to die, so come on
Rise up and take the power back, it’s time that
The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that
Their time is coming to an end, we have to
Unify and watch our flag ascend, so come on
They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious, so come on!