Too much of the latter
November 13, 2008 | Last weekend was the Palm Springs gay pride parade and festival. The usual suspects were out in force: drag queens, muscle boys, leather men, celebrities, politicians, wannabes.
This year we staked out a new spot away from the Fundies who always show up with their signs and bullhorns. We met at Hamburger Mary's for brunch, then went across to the shady side of the street to watch.
Réal proved to be the champion bead collector, at one point scoring an entire bunch still bundled together. Of course he shared.
Coming two days before the election, 'No on Prop 8' signs were everywhere. That, of course, was preaching to the choir. The people who needed to see the signs were not at the parade.
There was a special contingent in the parade made up of couples who had legally married. Most of them have been together for years but their relationship was unrecognized by the state until the Calif. Supreme Court over-ruled the ban.
So much for pride. Prejudice reasserted itself two days later at the polls.
Proposition 8: Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
The forces against proposition 8 were funded by enormous amounts of money from churches, Mormon and Fundamentalist Christian, and political organizations on the right. They waged a fear campaign designed to make people think their way of life as they know it would come to an end if the proposition were not passed.
According to the proponents of Prop 8, "traditional marriage" has to be "restored." Two problems:
• What is traditional marriage? The marriage that forbade slaves from marrying? Marriage between slaves was not recognized until after the Civil War. The marriage that forbade persons of different races from getting married? That was the law in many states until 1967. The marriage between Mormon men and their several wives? That was disavowed in 1890 when Utah wanted to become a state, but is still practiced, unofficially. A drive-thru marriage in Las Vegas or Reno? Still big business.
• How can you restore something that still exists? The last time I looked, the newspapers were full of wedding announcements, mostly between a man and a woman.
According to the proponents of Prop 8, it is not about rights:
Proposition 8 is NOT an attack on gay couples and does not take away the rights that same-sex couples already have under California's domestic partner law. California law already grants domestic partners all the rights that a state can grant to a married couple.
• Wrong! When two people are "married" they get certain rights automatically; this is not so with "civil unions" or "domestic partnership" laws. Easy example: In California, and elsewhere, people who are "married" have the right to file joint Federal income tax returns; people who are registered as a "domestic partnership" or "civil union" must file single Federal income tax returns.
According to the proponents of Prop 8, it is all about "redefining" marriage:
Gays have a right to their private lives, but not to change the definition of marriage for everyone else.
• Sure, gays can have their "private lives" but they should say out of sight and out of mind. In other words, they should be second class citizens, kept hidden away from the rest of society.
• Let's talk about the definition of marriage. Marriage is a contractual legal relationship between people, granted by the state. People are "married" when their relationship is recognized by law, and myriad rights flow from that legal status. Ask anyone who has gone through a divorce! Marriage isn't all about love and procreation — it's also about property, child support, inheritance, insurance coverage, etc.
Marriage is not about brides in white dresses being ushered down the aisle and "given away" by their father to another man and being blessed by a religious figure. If people want to do that for themselves, that's fine — just don't confuse that ceremony with what marriage really is.
According to the proponents of Prop 8, marriage is "under attack" by gays.
• How, exactly, does saying "I want that, too" put something under attack? Far from marriage being under attack, it is gays and lesbians who are under attack.
Saying that a certain class of people — in this case those who are homosexual — are not allowed to enter into the same kinds of legal relationships that other people are, that they don't have the same rights, is discrimination, pure and simple. It violates the sense of decency and fairness, and it violates the 14th amendment to the Constitution that guarantees that a state cannot "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
I will go even farther: churches that contributed money to the Yes on 8 campaign should have their tax exemption rescinded. The founders took great pains to establish a separation between church and state. It's about time to reinforce that wall.
A constitution is a founding document. It governs all citizens, and it should not be tinkered with by simple majority. For some crazy reason, California permits its constitution to be amended by popular initiative by a majority vote. That allows what Ibsen called the "tyranny of the majority." By passing Prop 8 Californians have enshrined discrimination in the state constitution.
Although he tends to get a bit over-wrought at time, Keith Olbermann on MSNBC had it exactly right when he asked, "What's it to you?"
For more pictures, view the Palm Springs Pride 2008 slideshow in Galleries.
Last updated on Sep 10, 2016