Zen & the Art of Protesting Prop. 8
Brothers and sisters, we are off-topic, and losing style points. This is not a Marjorie Christofferson issue. It’s not an El Coyote issue. It’s a civil rights issue. We need to remember that and keep our eyes on the ball, lest we devolve further into angry mobs for whom nobody could feel compassion. Attacking an elderly woman in Palm Springs? Seriously, that’s despicable.
Defending our position against all sorts of fire-breathing ignoramuses has really crystallized this issue for me. I’m clever, but I didn’t go to law school, and I can’t say it any better than this, cribbed from Paul Hogarth’s review of SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s suit to halt the enactment of Proposition 8:
Prop 8 was not your typical “amendment” that merely tinkers with the California Constitution. It was a drastic revision that deprives a “suspect class” (gays and lesbians) of a fundamental right under equal protection. And a simple majority vote of the people is not enough to take that right away – especially when the purpose of equal protection is to shield minorities. While other courts have upheld marriage amendments in other states, they have different Constitutions – and court rulings have changed considerably in a short period of time. And unlike many states, California has explicitly found sexual orientation to be a “suspect class.”
The night before our commitment ceremony last year, I got an email from one of my oldest friends, (and first girlfriends) condemning our commitment and wishing every sort of apocalyptic impediment on our day. Literally: earthquakes, floods – raccoons even. When I’d issued my short, friendship-ending goodbye, Sam said, “Now she just thinks you’re an angry sinner.”
I’m just as angry as anyone about Prop 8, but we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We shouldn’t be crushing the livelihoods of the staff of a local restaurant (virally perpetuating low opinions of us), or expecting its owner to abandon her core beliefs, or apologize for a simple act that is her right. We can’t allow the ignorance of those who supported Prop 8 to make us go all Rush Limbaugh on people.
I’m not a Christian, and I think the whole WWJD thing is just silly, mostly because those who brandish it are usually doing something any decent person, let alone a messiah, wouldn’t be doing. But I am a Democrat, who voted to put Barack Obama in the White House, and I believe he is our President Elect because of his civility and cool-headedness. He had history on his side, and he knew it. He didn’t have to excoriate small business owners, rough-up Palm Springs seniors, or eat his own. In light of that, playing it like Obama might, isn’t such a bad idea.
We too, have history on our side. The South tried to keep slaves from their rights, and they failed. George Wallace tried to champion segregation, and he failed. Until 1967, a third of the country tried to keep interracial couples from their rights and they failed. The LDS tried to crush the ERA, and have failed, so far. The religious right is trying to abridge our rights, and they too, will fail.
It is not for a simple majority to decide the rights of an entire population. The truth will be recognized, and between now and then, it is up to us to decide how we’re going to get there, and if we will do so with our integrity and humanity intact.