Saturday, November 8, 2008

On the Passing of Proposition 8

I promise that soon, soon, I'll get back to writing about music and parties and all that fun stuff, but my mind has been more occupied with the events of the past week, both uplifting and depressing, than it has been with thoughts of where I might be able to have a good time. While the election of Obama has certainly cheered me, the passing of Proposition 8 has really made me wonder about the way in which the mass can be moved by fear and thinly disguised hate to deprive other human beings of their essential humanity through legislative means.

Part of my personal reaction to this has been to think that I can never trust the African-American or Latino communities again, and to be just a tad disgusted that those communities, which should understand something about legislative discrimination, could be moved in such numbers to undertake that kind of discrimination against another group. I heard an African-American pastor who was a leader of the Yes on 8 Movement say that he thought it was absurd to compare gay civil rights wth the black civil rights movement, because "nobody was being chased down by dogs or beaten by police." And yet, it's only been recently that Mathew Shepard was left to die on a barbed wire fence, and every day gays and lesbians face harassment, both physical and mental, and some pay for their sexual orientation with their lives. The only difference was that, until now, there was no institutional, legalized discrimination against them; with the passing of Proposition 8, we now see how that process begins. This is how the Nazis also began their persecution of Jews through the Nuremberg laws that set prohibitions on their ability to marry non-Jews, and, as a Southerner, I also remember miscegenation laws that prohibited interracial marriage (and which legislators also tried to insert into the US Constitution). Slaves, of course, were not allowed to marry because that would have meant soiling a sacred sacrament. Funny, isn't it, how the once-oppressed so eagerly adopt the ideas and methods of their former oppressors.

What bothers me the most about this, however, is that people who have no relation to me, my life, or the lives of my friends, seem to feel that its their place to dictate how I should live, and what I should or should not be allowed to do, based on religious beliefs that I don't share. Do we really want to live in a world where religious belief and practice is dictated by majority rule?

As CW Nevius writes in today's Chronicle
, the supporters of Proposition 8 seem surprised by the anger directed toward them. As I commented on that article, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." If your actions are motivated by loathing of other people, don't be surprised if that loathing is returned. For now, I hope that the legal challenges to Proposition 8 will move forward, because it is a dangerous thing to enshrine in law the denial of rights to other human beings based on religious belief. That is the path that leads to the ovens.

From Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court Decision that overturned anti-miscegenation laws throughout the US:
Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.


kidhack said...

The Jaded Gay DJ said...

Awesome link, Keith Olbermann giving hell and getting really emotional about it!