Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Second class citizens

This has been a bittersweet week. Sweet because Barack Obama is our president-elect. Bitter because voters in California passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, even though same sex marriage had been legal in that state since May. Sweet because the United States finally overcame hundreds of years of racism and elected an African American to the highest office in the land. Bitter because the majority of voters in California said that gays and lesbians are second class citizens who do not deserve equal rights.

I am angry. I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. I wonder why gays, lesbians, and our straight allies are so unorganized that Proposition 8 passed. Incensed because so many gays and lesbians take any crumbs that straight people throw our way rather than organizing behind a movement to get us our Fourteenth Amendment rights of equal protection. Frustrated and defeated because our democracy is supposed to protect the rights of minority groups, not trample on them.

I'm perplexed wondering why civil marriage and religious marriage aren't separated in the USA. Religious marriage and civil marriage are two completely different things. With respect to religious marriage, I strongly believe that every religion and every religious denomination should be able to define marriage however it so chooses. The First Amendment to the Constitution makes that clear. Religious marriage should be defined by individual religions. But why does the government at both the federal and state level define marriage in religious terms and not in civil terms? It's a no-brainer that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that any two people regardless of gender should be able to have the civil benefits of marriage. Religious beliefs should have nothing to do with civil marriage. What we need is a system similar to many nations in Western Europe: you are required to have a civil ceremony to receive the government benefits of civil marriage. If you choose to have a separate religious ceremony, that's up to you.

I'm dismayed that so many people in California voted for Barack Obama but against the basic civil rights of gays and lesbians. That seem so incongruous. What the fuck is their problem?

How does it make sense that I could get ordained online right now and marry a heterosexual couple? How are we protecting the "sanctity" of marriage when half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce? Has the world come to an end in Massachusetts, which has had same sex civil marriage since May 17, 2004? Of course not.

I don't understand why the voters of California let a small yet organized group of hate-filled Utah Mormons and other crazies invade their state and scare enough people to pass this vile and unconstitutional amendment. It's hard to believe that there are so many people who hate other people. It's sad that people let their fears of gays and lesbians overcome logic and reason. It's sad that people turn their fears of gays and lesbians into hate by voting for Proposition 8.

Why do gays and lesbians have to pay the same taxes as everyone else, yet we don't get equal civil rights? Why is it now legal in California to teach children that it's all right to discriminate against gays and lesbians? How can people be pleased that civil rights have now been taken away from the people of California? What happens to the 16,000 same sex couples who are/were legally married in California? How can any American be pleased with taking away the civil rights of their fellow citizens?

My friends Lesley and Mikel live in California and attended the protest in Los Angeles last night. I wish that I could have been there with them.

I'm convinced that someday we'll look back on the denial of equal civil rights to gays and lesbians in a similar way that we look back on the Jim Crow era today. Much of this is generational, with most people under 40 not believing that anyone would want to deny gays and lesbians their civil rights. In the meantime, I hope that people who believe in civil rights will continue to fight the good fight and stand up for equality.

This morning at Plymouth UCC, the sermon focused on the dichotomy of Obama's election and the denial of rights to gays and lesbians. For the closing hymn we sang "We Shall Overcome." It was bittersweet for our open and affirming congregation. Sweet in the sense of all that has been accomplished with Barack Obama's election. And bitter because there is still so much to do to ensure that gays and lesbians have equal civil rights.

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