To anyone who has ever doubted the rationality and humanity of the American political system, I give your suspicions credence: Prop 8. On Nov. 5, California law began enforcing discriminatory marriage practices; a second class of citizens was selected for institutionalized prejudice by a slim margin of the electorate.
Ongoing protests crackle with righteous indignation and indomitable energy against Prop 8‘s de facto encroachment of the state government into matters of love. LGBT groups declared last Saturday and Sunday nationwide days of protest and tens of thousands spoke out in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, united in the common purpose of restoring equality and providing our gay brothers and sisters with the fundamental right of marriage which we heteros take for granted. Considering both canons of democracy and morality, there is no debate: Prop 8 must be stricken from the state constitution.
For the gravity Prop 8 carries, the legal verbiage it entails is succinct. The addition of a single sentence to the California constitution deprives an entire demographic of legal tolerance and deprives us all of a functional democracy: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.“
This artless sentence crept onto the ballot as a last-ditch holdout for homophobes. It has successfully overturned a California Supreme Court ruling that tore up Prop 22, a replica gay marriage ban passed in 2000. Although Prop 8 cut and pasted 22‘s wording, it smeared them onto the constitution, thus stripping the judiciary of the ability to overturn it. Theoretically, at least.
Our constitution must be moderated by all legal bodies to ensure fairness and equality and to represent minority interests. Balances are foundational to procedural democracy – it’s the role of the judiciary and, of course, voters to ensure that the majority not oppress smaller groups by numerical superiority. Prop 8 is a cheap shot. It’s just a dipstick reading of “are there still less gays than Protestants?” which enables intolerant agendas to rob minorities of their status as equal American citizens.
If this is allowed to stand, majorities could open the floodgates of regressive petty hatred and vote away black voting rights, vote away women’s property rights, vote away legal protections of communists, vote away child custody for vegetarians, vote away citizenship of Ron Paul supporters. Courts ruled marriage to be an “inalienable right” for all citizens, not an “inalienable right until we hear otherwise.” Marriage is as fundamental now as it was in 2000 and as such should be protected. Concerned groups petitioned the judiciary to remove Prop 8 from the ballot, but courts declined without comment. Remind them of their jobs.
Seventy-two percent of Californian voters turned out to vote on Prop 8 and a 2.2 percent majority swayed the vote to “yes.“ A “yes“ to the abuse of democracy. A “yes“ to perpetuating closed-mindedness and social division. A “yes“ to the validation of puritanical conceit. A “yes“ to the continued mistreatment of people, just people, who want the opportunity to find love and companionship in an unsettled, lonely world.
How would the tolerance of love bring hurt to anyone? Arguments for a ban on gay marriage are, wholesale, nonsecular and absurd. First is the notion that Christian moral scientists cracked the universal code of ethics and saw that gayness will result in fire, brimstone, festering boils, AIG’s collapse, etc. I ask of them: Where have gone the values of a compassionate Christ? Grow up and realize that homosexuality is love and to obsess over the sexual behavior of others may not have been your God’s intention. Many others are uncertain or uncommitted.
To them, I ask: Would you settle for anything less than equal treatment? Look past the ephemeral and realize the common humanity we all share. Aren’t we past ready for the next step in the journey toward human community? See truth.
CHEYA CARY wants to say hi to Jameela and Jasmine and encourages all of you to contribute some time or energy in the ongoing fight for equality. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.